Saturday 15 May 2021
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Air Namibia’s MD saga drags on

A number of the bosses at the helm of parastatals are serving in acting capacity constraining their ability to perform their roles freely.
Some of the agencies are marked as ‘corporate hot seats’ with one acting manager replacing another almost every year.
Air Namibia’s acting MD Mandi Samson’s is one of those whose acting stints continues to be renewed non-stop.
Her acting term was earlier this month extended to 12 August 2017. This means by the time she finishes the current stint she would have been acting for two full years seeing that she was appointed on 12 August 2015.
It seems government is struggling to find a suitable appointment for Air Namibia’s hot seat since the departure of Theo Namases.
In June last year Minister of Public Enterprises Leon Jooste told this publication that the first round of interviews were conducted but it did not yield the desired results.
The Patriot understands another interview session was held in September last year, but there is still no appointment made.
Some of the candidates at the time include Samson herself and the incumbent chief operations officer Jonas Sheelongo.
Responding to questions from this publication through the office of the airline’s spokesperson[Paul Nakawa], Board chair Gerson Tjihenuna refused to reveal when an appointment will be made.
Tjihenuna however confirmed that Samson was indeed one of those vying to land the job.
“Advocate Samson’s contract has been extended for another six months and we will cross the bridge of permanent appointment when we reach there.
We are not under any obligation to disclose the names of the other candidates,” he said when asked who the candidates were.
There are also claims of internal wrangling to unseat Samson.
Sources privy to the operations at Air Namibia with some individuals want her acting stint to be cancelled to make way for a new acting CEO. Tjihenuna said the board is not aware of such issues.
“The claims of “internal wrangling” have not reached the Board. The Board has full confidence in advocate Samson and that was why her acting stint has been extended,” he said.
Although there are those who want Samson to fall, it seems there is also a section supporting her.
“Advocate Samson has assisted to turnaround Air Namibia in a very short period of time. We see tangible results of her work, as she has broad understanding of the aviation industry and she focused on compliance issues immediately when she joined the airline, this has been her priority as a professional in the legal fraternity, so I do not understand why the authority is not appointing her,” said an Air Namibia official who chose to remain anonymous.
The source further said: There seem to be a turf of war between the Minister of Public Enterprise and the Ministry of Works and Transport, hence the Air Namibia board of directors seem no to be finalizing this matter, as both ministers have their preferred candidates.”
Samson worked as General Manager for Corporate and Legal Services at the Namibia Airports Company and served as chairperson of the Board of Trustees at the Government Institution’s Pension Fund (GIPF) in the past.
She was also a Commissioner of the Law Reform and Development Commission and a member of a cabinet-appointed task team on the multibillion dollar De Beers sales agreement.
On the aviation front, Samson, who has a private legal practice, assisted the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in developing and drafting the Common Regulations of Competition in Air Transport Services within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community and SADC.
More recently she served as a consultant to the African Union tasked with drafting regulations of competition for air transport in Africa, and arbitration procedures.

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