By Eliaser Ndeyanale
Three Telecom Namibia top officials have parted ways with Telecom Namibia following their suspension in last year.
In November 2018, Telecom had suspended its chief executive officer, Theo Klein, the company’s chief financial officer Robert Offner, internal auditor Ben van der Merwe and head of legal services, Jinah Buys allegedly for their involvement in a dubious contract.
The board suspended the four top officials after an investigation into how the telecommunications company paid N$4 million from March 2016 to June 2017 for an allegedly fake N$12 million tender.
The Patriot is reliably informed that Klein and van der Merwe opted for early retirement after their suspensions while Robert Offner tendered his resignation. Van der Merwe confirmed to this publication on Thursday that he had indeed opted for early retirement.
“No, my suspension has not been lifted. I don’t work for Telecom anymore as I have opted for early retirement,” he said when asked about his employment status.
Contacted for comment, Offner said “I can’t talk right now give me an hour or so.” Theo Klein declined to comment.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said last week.
Lawyer Frans Kwala, who was tasked to investigate the matter under what a source described as an irregular appointment confirmed that Klein and van der Merwe took early retirement while Offner resigned. He said that Buys is charged with violating the board charter by failing to advise the board on the fake account while Klein, van der Merwe and Offner are charged with gross negligence and incompetence. Kwala’s appointment is believed to have been queried as he was never on the approved service providers list as per the annual procurement plan.
Buys referred questions to her lawyer Saima Nambinga who said “if I remember correctly, you previously reported on Ms Buys’ matter when the matter concerning her suspension first raised itself.
Is this correct? And in that report you addressed the charges and suspension of Ms Buys correct?
So I’m interested to understand as I earlier said telephonically today, the rationale for tomorrow’s report, and the rush. Why do you contact my client on a public holiday to ask questions for something you want to run the next day? What prompts this emergency?
This is not a new matter. Why the sensationalism?
I caution you thus: You are reporting about somebody’s livelihood here. What you say concerning her becomes the views of public perceptions about her, rightly or wrongly. Sensational reporting about her impacts her personally. I ask you the question; to what achievement are you seeking a re-run of content which necessarily raises defamatory content?
If you actually want to hear my client’s story, and reflect her true position, tell me. Until then, I will not participate in your producing any slanderous content to my client’s detriment.
I caution thus: be fair in your dealings. Clearly some of the questions you pose are not answerable by my client. Surely you know this.”
The Patriot could not confirm how much the three former officials would be paid out as Telecom head of corporate communications Nomvula Kondombo-Kambinda said that the matter was on-going.
“Telecom Namibia is not at liberty to disclose details on the matter at this stage,” she said.
Information and communication technology minister, Stanley Simaata said he had been informed about the departure of the three executives, but declined to lift the lid on the matter.
Reports last year were that Telecom Namibia and Canocopy Pty Limited (owned by Paratus Telecom), signed the contract in 2013.
Canocopy, according to the agreement, would offer Telecom Namibia printing facilities for 36 months. Papers filed in the High Court on 30 August show that Telecom Namibia paid Canocopy Pty around N$4,8 million (N$299 000 per month) from March 2016 to June 2017.
The reports said that documents show that the contract was renewed on 9 March 2016 for 16 more months, before Telecom Namibia realised last year that it was fraudulent.
The decision was based on a 2016 Telecom resolution that bore a forged signature of former managing director Frans Ndoroma, who retired in 2014.
The agreement, which the legal team at Kwala & Co Incorporated Attorneys claim to have seen allegedly has the signatures of former Canocopy owner, Mark Barnard and Offner.