Friday 18 June 2021
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TransNamib’s massive power struggles

The latest events at TransNamib see it making the news for all the wrong reasons, chief amongst those is the never-ending fight between the board and management.
The Minister of Works and Transport John Mutorwa last month expressed deep concern by the ongoing governance crises at the railway parastatal.
The crises seem to have climaxed during last year, however despite various attempts to bring stability to TransNamib, government seems to be back a little bit further than where it was several years ago, in terms of fundamentally addressing corporate governance issues.
The current board described as largely dysfunctional has seemingly undertaken a culling exercise both within its own ranks as well as several executives losing their jobs while those who remained ran to the Labour Court for  recourse citing unfair labour practices and unilateral change of working conditions.
Reinstated executive Hippy Tjivikua recently won his case against the company in the Labour Court and so has turnaround strategist Johan Piek.
The cases of executives such as Michael Feldmann(Operations), Michael Gotore(Finance) and former Engineering Executive Kunetsa  Kufakowadya are currently being heard in the Labour Court.
Also, the former Company Secretary Eugenia Taylor-Tjaronda who was summarily dismissed and without hearing has also taken her matter to the Labour Court.
The former Chief Legal Advisor Gokulan Thambapilai was also sacked without a hearing.
Last year Smit also lobbied the ministry get dismiss Jimmy Dantagos-Melani from the board. Mutorwa however intervened and reinstated her.
Mutorwa is especially concerned with the manner in which the board handled the crisis of one of the company’s executives Hippy Tjivikua, citing the lack of administrative justice as a grave concern. Company insiders claim the board has been side lining the company CEO Johny Smith when it comes to operational matters, especially where effecting payments is concerned.
“It seems the board is run by two people, the chairman(Paul Smit) and deputy chair(Elize Angula) because they are taking all the decisions,” said the source. On 23 July 2018, Smith informed Phillip Ellis from Ellis and Partners that the board has no power to procure any services on behalf of TransNamib.
Smith made it clear that such powers lie with him. Mutorwa supported Smith’s stance and expressed his disappointment over the fact that the CEO received instructions from the law firm instead of the board.
“I fully endorse and support the TransNamib Holding’s CEO’s hesitancy and refusal not to accept instructions, particularly with financial implications, from none other than the board. Such instructions or directives from and by the board must be signed by the chairperson,” said Mutorwa.
The board further stands accused of attempting to get rid of Tjivikua by all means.
Tjivikua faces four charges, the first being that of dishonesty, gross negligence and conduct which caused mistrust that resulted in a breakdown in the relationship of trust between Tjivikua and his employer.
The charge was prompted after a train derailment near Dune 7 in July 2015 which caused a diesel spill. The company subsequently appointed HRD Trading Enterprises.
According to the charge sheet, the company consisted of one member and was not qualified or well-equipped to do the rehabilitation works. The sheet further allege that HRD was appointed without the due procurement processes being followed and without a scope of work being issued.
Tjivikua is also charged for dragging TransNamib to the Labour Court after alleging unfair labour practices and claimed N$858 178.90 from TransNamib while he was acting CEO.

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