…as Shifeta sanctions Naobeb’s contract extension
Questions have been raised about the contract extension of Namibia Tourism Board’s chief executive officer Digu Naobeb.
Naobeb was interviewed alongside other candidates in August 2017 when his contract expired. He was subsequently appointed to act as CEO until his appointment this week.
Naobeb’s contract has been extended for two years, after which it will be up for review.
The Patriot has learned of a well-crafted conspiracy, which allegedly includes cabinet ministers and other senior officials, aimed at deliberately pulling the strings to ensure that Naobeb remains at the helm of government’s tourism marketing body.
His contract is being extended despite, amongst others, failure to enact a domestic marketing policy as well as to implement a system to register tour guides in the country.
At present, anyone in Namibia can work as tour guide. NTB is also said to be struggling to carry out its regulatory functions, a situation made worse by NTB inability to collect tourism levies to independently sustain its operations.
Official projections shows that NTB can generate an estimated N$40 million per annum through levies. NTB currently depends on government for funding, which is in the region of N$10 million per year.
NTB also stands accused of neglecting communal conservancies during its international marketing roadshows, which subsequently robs those conservancies from drawing tourists.
Naobeb was appointed as NTB boss in 2007, this means by the time his extended contract runs out he would have served as NTB CEO for 12 years.
Shifeta yesterday refused to comment on Naobeb’s employment status and referred all queries to the board.
“Please ask the board because I do not deal with the CEO,” he said.
The Patriot has it on good grounds that several cabinet members had reservations about the contract extension while others raised the issue of the Kora money as a primary reason why Naobeb’s contract should not be extended.
In 2016 NTB lodged court papers at the High Court of Namibia against West African con-artist Ernest Adjovi who allegedly swindled the parastatal of nearly N$30 million under a supposed Kora Awards marketing deal that turned sour.
Other members were worried that long-standing concerns about Naobeb’s leadership and competence are being ignored.
The extension of the contract which is expected to be signed soon, for a further two years, has infuriated cabinet members and NTB officials who have registered their concerns with Naobeb. They stopped short of accusing the Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta of favouring Naobeb.
Naobeb has often been accused of being the cause of employee unrest at NTB.
Official documents seen by this publication shows that NTB spent about N$1,05 million in legal fees between 2014 and 2016 to get legal advise on labor unrest matters.
NTB was last week ordered to reinstate a former finance manager of the parastatal and pay her N$1,9 million in compensation for earnings lost as a result of her dismissal.
Ndapewa Kankondi was dismissed on 31 March 2015 due to alleged insubordination and abuse of subsistence and travel allowances. Her dismissal has since been declared unlawful.
The top brass of the MET led by Shifeta last week met with the top leadership of the Ministry of Public Enterprises spearheaded by Leon Jooste.
“We were concerned because of the serious allegations pointing against him,” said an official who refused to be named.
At that meeting, Shifeta shared the board’s recommendation to extend Naobeb’s contract. The public enterprises team was allegedly not impressed with Shifeta’s decision to endorse the board recommendation.
“It is perplexing that Shifeta is pushing for the contract extension because he instituted a probe into allegations made against Naobeb and appointed a two-men committee to conduct the investigation. The committee found that Naobeb is incompetent and that he lacks leadership skills yet the minister continues to motivate for the contract extension,” said the same official who is privy to the discussions of last week’s meeting.
During that meeting, deputy minister for Public Enterprises Veikko Nekundi allegedly spoke strongly against the reappointment of Naobeb.
A source familiar with the meeting said Nekundi accused the MET of flouting corporate governance rules by allowing Naobeb to continue despite the array of claims made against him as well as a damning outcome that emanated from a committee constituted by Shifeta which found him to be incompetent and lacking leadership skills.
The Patriot understands Environmental Commissioner Theofelus Nghitila and Seini Shidute were the two officials appointed by Shifeta to probe the matter.
“He instituted a committee to probe the allegations yet he ignored the findings of that committee. One can only wonder why Naobeb is being protected so much by the minister,” remarked the source.