Saturday 17 April 2021
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Immanuel hits back at Nghiwete

Namibia Student Financial Aid Fund company secretary Fillemon Immanuel says claims that he undermines the fund’s CEO Hilya Nghiwete are part of a “campaign to tarnish my good name and professional integrity”. Immanuel and Nghiwete do not see eye to eye, with both going as far as laying grievances against each other. Nghiwete says Immanuel makes use of foul language when talking to her; disregards official instructions and violates the Code of Ethics of the company. The offenses committed are a combination of major and serious offences which in terms of the Employee Relations Policy warrant a charge of misconduct against any NSFAF employee. Immanuel however disputed these claims during an interview this week, saying: “The CEO claims I use foul language just because I told her that I will not tolerate workplace bullying. If that is classified as foul language, then I think I should take the University of Namibia to court for providing me with sub-standard education.” A visibly irate Immanuel said personal interests should find no space at NSFAF and accused Nghiwete of being vindictive.
It emerged last week that a disciplinary hearing found Immanuel guilty on two counts of gross negligence, using insulting language to the supervisor and disregarding official instruction from the supervisor. The disciplinary procedure recommended that Immanuel be dismissed on 30 June 2017, this was not implemented. A combative Immanuel said that had he did not recognize the disciplinary hearing because “it was irregularly and illegally constituted.” He said Nghiwete was supposed to get permission from the board before initiating a disciplinary hearing or dismissal. “She did not get that approval as prescribed in the company’s delegation framework. She was also the one who appointed the chairman for the disciplinary committee and he merely acted on her recommendations to recommend for my dismissal,” said Immanuel.
In his final outcome, external labor consultant Johan Van Rooyen said: “Mr. Immanuel’s conduct seriously jeopardized the trust relationship between him and the CEO to such an extent that it is beyond repair.” “I have to agree with the Initiator[Nghiwete] from what transpired during the disciplinary hearing, that besides the gravity of the charges on which the Employee was found guilty, the relationship between the CEO, and Company Secretary has been fatally and probably permanently damaged,” said Van Rooyen adding that under the circumstances there can be no efficient working relationship between the two. Van Rooyen feels that while the reasons for the strained relationship between the two is “probably complex and difficult to establish objectively”, they did not justify Immanuel to misconduct himself.
In a letter written to board chairperson, Patty Karuaihe-Martins last Friday after The Patriot wrote several articles on the NSFAF infightings, Immanuel maintained that the hearing conducted by Van Rooyen was unlawful. “I again confirm herein Madam Chair, that I have been subjected to the retaliatory, malicious, discriminatory, unfair and therefore unlawful Disciplinary Hearing concerned, among other unfair labor practices , by the Principal Officer[Nghiwete], because of my firm conviction that public institutions, NSFAF included, should be managed on ethical grounds and in the overall interest of the Shareholder,” he said.
Immanuel reiterated that, according to the company structure, he reports to the board and not Nghiwete. “Along with a well-established governance position that I, as a Company Secretary is an appointee of the Board and report to the same functionally, hence the Principal Officer has no power whatsoever to drag me to a disciplinary hearing, save when she is doing that on the instructions and/or with the sanctioning of the Board. We were put before the Chairperson(whose appointment and involvement thereafter leaves much to be desired) of the retaliatory Disciplinary Hearing concerned,” said Immanuel. He says Nghiwete “concocted” the disciplinary charges against him because of his insistence for good governance at NSFAF. Another reason, according to Immanuel: “My request for the Board to look into the allegations of a potential conflict of interests between the Principal Officer and IT Consultant.”
Immanuel also claimed that there are constant attempts by Nghiwete to change his conditions of employment.
In April his legal team wrote to Nghiwete accusing her of “committing a plethora of unfair labor practices against our client.” “Our client has on numerous occasions raised with you, both orally and verbally the lack of lawfulness in your several attempts to remove the Legal Advisory functions from the key responsibilities of our client,” wrote Kangueehi & Kavendjii Incorporated law firm. According to the firm, Immanuel’s physical health, psychological wellbeing and professional confidence are negatively affected because of Nghiwete’s attempts to render the working environment and working conditions of Immanuel intolerant. “As a result, our client is consistently under psychological distress, causing him to be in and out of hospital,” said  Immanuel’s legal team.

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