… NQA and research commission still board less
The absence of boards to carry out oversight functions at the country research entity as well as qualifications authority has not stopped the two parastatals from carrying out their mandates. In the absence of a board and a CEO for the better part of 2017 – marketing and communications manager at the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA) Catherine Shipushu says the parastatal continues to operate within its legal apparatus to fulfil its operational functions – despite it not having a board.
Responding to questions this week on how the state owned enterprise has fared without a board for the most part of 2017, Shipushu said NQA has been fulfilling its operational functions as per the provisions of the relevant legislation and the delegation framework within which it operates. “In the process of delivering on its mandate, the NQA continues to enter into agreements with various partners and service providers,” Shipushu said.
Asked about major agreements or procurement deals that the quality assurance entity has entered in 2017 without the oversight function of the board, Shipushu retorted: “To cite a few examples, the NQA is currently developing the National Qualifications Framework Information Management System (NQFIMS). Upon completion, the NQFIMS will essentially be a hub of all data pertaining to qualifications in Namibia and is expected to revolutionise data management in the education and training space in the country. This project is based on an agreement with the South African Qualifications Authority.”
She added: “The NQA recently acquired an online recruitment system which will enhance internal efficiencies in the area of recruitment. The NQA also continues to procure the services of Subject Matter Experts to conduct site visits as part of the accreditation regulations.” The board’s role is to oversee the management and governance of a company and to monitor senior management’s performance.
Shipushu further emphasized that all agreements entered into by the NQA, including those related to procurement “are managed through the appropriate frameworks, including the recently promulgated Public Procurement Act”. More so, at some point, NQA was without a board and CEO after their terms of office had lapsed.
Interestingly, higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi was been forced to re-appoint NQA boss Franz Gertze as new CEO while the ministry sorts the board appoint issues. The NQA board (Council) was appointed by former education minister, David Namwandi in 2014 and came to an end on 28 February 2017.
The reasons as to why the terms of office of the boards, who in turn have to appoint CEOs are left to lapse without the immediate appointment of new board members remains unknown in the public domain. But in the corridors of the higher education ministry, its open knowledge that the move is part of plot to consolidate SOEs that report to the ministry.
Echoing the words of Shipushu was her National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) counterpart Ockert Jansen who said “it is business as usual” at the SOE. Like NQA, the NCRST management is also operating without a board which can hold it to account.
The term of office of the NCRST board ended in March 2017.
Additionally, the chief executive officer’s position became vacant after the then executive Dr. Eino Mvula vacated his role on 31 May 2017, taking over a junior role as Chief Operation Officer at the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund. In the meantime, NCRST company secretary Enid Keramen occupies the CEO’s position for the interim.
According to Jansen, however, operations at NCRST have gone unhindered despite the absence of a substantive board as “with or without the board, those agreements could have been signed”. He said Keramin, by virtue of her position “has the power to enter into any agreement” on behalf of NCRST.
“In terms of the TOR of the NCRST board, they are not involved in the operational matters of the Commission on a daily basis. Therefore, by virtue of the Delegation of Authority, the NCRST Management, in specific the Chief Executive Officer becomes the signatory to all agreement that the Commission commits to.” “The NCRST was established as a juristic person in terms of the Research Science and Technology Act (RSTI Act), Act 23 of 2004. The CEO or CEO designate hold the powers and perform such functions as delegated by the Commission,” Jansen explained. Jansen was quick to note that NCRST has not entered into any new procurement deal or contract that is subject to board approval during the period in which it has been operating without a board.
In terms of major procurement, the NCRST only implemented one procurement project, the renovation of the Innovation Hub which was already approved by the board in 2016. The hub is expected to cost an estimated N$3,1 million, according to Jansen. Additionally, Jansen said NCRST have entered into various crucial Memorandum of agreements (MoU’s) with other agencies to enable it fulfil its mandate.
These agreements focused amongst on joint funding, promotion, coordination and development of certain research areas, Jansen added. Locally, NCSRT has entered agreement with Namibia Standards Institute (NSI), Welwitschia University, Namibia Scientific Society, International University of Management (IUM) and Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN)
Internationally, the commission entered agreements with the South African Water Research Commission (WRC), Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC), SanBio (BioFISA), FUNDO Nacionale de Investigacão (FNI Mozambique) and Southern Africa Innovation Support Programme II (SAIS). NCRST is mandated to co-ordinate, monitor and supervise research, science and technology.