By Kelvin Chiringa
A whistleblower at Namutoni has accused their manager Maria Tavares for looting various properties owned by the farm for personal use in her house.
Tavares is said to have seized moveable properties which include a television screen, a DSTV decoder, sofas, a touch screen stove, a coffee table and 30 water dispensers when the resort management decided use a bigger restaurant.
The source could not reveal the worth of the said properties in dollar terms.
“In 2007 was the term of the turn-around strategy and we happened to have renovations whereby we had to renovate the restaurant. When the organisation decided that one of the two restaurants were small we had to move to the old big restaurant. But the current manager took those things (properties),” said the whistleblower who declined to be named for fear of retribution.
He said when the resort committee confronted Tavares she said she was granted permission to take the properties from the managing director.
“But those things were operational things. We also had an order of water dispensers when we opened the restaurant. They were a lot, may be 30. When I went to inquire about those dispensers, the contractor told me that he had taken also those dispensers to the manager’s house.”
The whistleblower said Tavares kept these operational items to her house despite the resorting having enough space to store them for safe keeping.
“Those are actually the things which are going on. When the committee asked for the stove, she denied and refused that she took the stove. She said she just took the sofas,” he said.
Tavares is also alleged to be in cordial relations with the committee which the whistleblower alleged to have done nothing further to claim the properties.
The manager has also been accused to availing employment to her cronies without following procedure and advertising for the positions.
Tavares however said she had a right to use NWR furniture as per company policy.
“I really do not know what to say but everything that I am having in the camp belongs to the company including the house where I am staying. It’s not against the company’s policy that I am using it on my own personal (capacity). I am staying at NWR facilities and if you need more information about this you can contact Mr. Mufaro (Nesongano).”
“I was assigned to the NWR accommodation with everything that is in. I found it there; I will leave it there when I am gone. It’s not that it belongs to me,” she said.
She however denied taking the 30 water dispensers.
“30 water dispensers? Aye! I don’t use those types of things. Me I thought you were referring to the furniture that is in the house. Water dispensers for what? Drinking water? There is no such thing. If I need water to drink I do not need to have whatever,” she said.
Allegations are that she has promoted some new employees ahead of veteran staff.
“Two years ago a recruitment took place whereby the positions were not advertised for Namibian people to apply so it was just like we are a restaurant supervisors and she calls to say no come to the manager’s office. When we got there we got a bunch of people and she said these are your people, they are in your hands, they are workers, bartenders.
As per normal practice, as a supervisor you have to get the contract of that person to know is he/she on contract, or employed permanently. Those things did not appear. Later on we found out that those people were just family (members) of the lady, some of them.
Then from there, the other people, when she explained to us that they came with experience. I remember one guy whom she said was a carpenter and she that she did not want him to suffer doing carpentry things, just a few months later, she ended up actually appointing that guy again as a driver. But we had people already who worked for the company a long time who had licenses who could have been promoted to that position,” he explained.
Tavares said she had no idea about this adding, “I have no right to employ anybody. I recommend and request for staff but to employ, to promote, that one is the decision of company management.”
The high placed source has told The Patriot that staff at Namutoni was afraid to come out in the open and speak out against alleged corruption.
He said that Tavares has refused to avail a van for staff to commute to and from work within the park in which they stay.
“The staff of late complained to us and we gave our complaints (to the manger) so that we can have transport. Previously the staff had transport, but this time we only have a bakkie which is actually not a good standard.”
“It’s just a ‘ka-small’ car. Even during the rainy season they are being driven in that ‘kacar’. We gave our complaints to head office so that they can give a Kombi or something. To come to the park is not easy. There is no hiking point.
But since we got a Quantum, it is just (unused). Actually the manager is that type of a person who just wants the people to suffer.
The committee organised a meeting with her to ask her why are the people suffering up to now while we have a Quantum and other resorts are not suffering. She said no I am just doing my job because I am focusing on cost cutting,” he said.
He added that the point of cost cutting was baseless as the same fuel which is supposed to be put in the Quantum equated to that of the bakkie.
“Now what is the point? So people feel threatened. They are not working well. It’s 30 km to come into the resort.
There are animals in the park. These are the people that we are not comfortable with and to see people doing corruption is not a good thing,” said the source.
She again denied this allegation saying they use any vehicle that is available.
“The Quantum that you are referring to is not even there for a month or three weeks,” she said.