Only two of Air Namibia’s top seven positions are currently occupied substantively, The Patriot can reveal.
With government having promised another N$2.1 billion capital injection to help its struggling state airline meet urgent financial obligations over the next three years, the leadership void at the airline remains a challenge.
Xavier Masule(General Manager for Commercial Services) and Larry Makanza(General Manager for Quality Assurance) are the only substantive executives.
There are no general managers for the positions of finance, human capital management, ground operations, flight operations and Chief Operating Officer(COO).
The company also has no substantive managing director. Acting MD Mandi Samson has been acting in the position for three years now.
A company insider said the airline is currently on its knees because of a lack of leadership. “The fact that we do not have a COO and a ground operations manager is part of the reason why the airline is struggling to effectively fulfil its mandate.
The current board failed to ensure that the company has quality leaders in key positions, perhaps it is a result of the infightings and some board members not seeing eye to eye,” said the source who refused to be named.
When contacted for comment, Air Namibia’s spokesperson Paul Nakawa confirmed the absence of substantive leadership at the airline. “We reserve detailed comments on the matter, however in short, lack of substantive General Managers at Air Namibia is a serious concern which is paralysing whatever we are mandated to do,” Nakawa said.
The lack of leadership at the national airline over the years, according to critics, gave birth to a legacy of problems which were inherited by the airline’s current board and these issues provide a challenge to its recovery path, which will require something “extraordinary”. Among the challenges is the airline’s debt burden and the questions over the capacity of its leadership.
For over half-a-decade, government has failed to appoint a substantive CEO for the company while several executives in other positions have come and gone at the parastatal.
There is therefore significant fears that accountability will remain a pipe dream. These fears are prompted by the fact that the airline has over the years racked up irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and no one has been held accountable.
“What is the point of pumping money into a company that has no one that can be held accountable? Government needs to get its act right and focus on the important things first which is to appoint a competent leadership team that can navigate the airline out of the current storm. Currently the staff members rotate in those vacant positions, this means no one will really take responsibility for anything that might go wrong,” said another company insider.
Works and Transport Minister John Mutorwa has not given an indication when the appointment of a substantive MD will take place.
Mutorwa this week indicated that he is not in support of company officials operating on an acting basis.
“Acting in positions is a paralysis because officials will be afraid to bold decisions,” he said.
Mutorwa said 90 applications were received from persons who want to serve on the Air Namibia board. There are only five positions up for grabs.
“I am currently preoccupied with the appointment of board members and I must say we are making progress in that regard. We received 90 applications and we have begun sorting the applications. We shortlisted 20 applications and I have already sent the names to Minister Leon Jooste so that I can have his input as well,” said the minister.
General Manager: Commercial Services (filled – Xavier Masule)
General Manager: Finance (not filled – acting person Xavier Masule)
General Manager: Human Capital Management (not filled – acting person Harold Mbuende)
General Manager: Ground Operations (not filled – acting person Moses Shihepo)
General Manager: Flight Operations (not filled – acting person Cpt. William Ekandjo)
General Manager: Quality Assurance (filled – Larry Makanza)