By Confidente Reporter
THERE is an alleged conspiracy by the Minister of Higher Education Itah Kandjii-Murangi and Chairperson of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) board Patty Karauihe-Martin to topple CEO of the parastatal, Hilya Nghiwete, Confidente can reveal.
According to a letter in Confidente’s possession written by Nghiwete last week copied to the Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, the Minister of Public Enterprises Leon Jooste, Kandjii- Murangi and the entire NSFAF board she further alleges that she is being victimised, harassed and disempowered from carrying her duties by the NSFAF board and its chairperson Karauihe- Martin. “The extent of the victimisation and harassment is tantamount to unfair labour practises, and thus unlawful. I have endured the treatment for a long time and raised my concerns informally at various meetings and other platforms. I would fail in my duties should I not formally register my grievances…
“On Tuesday, October 11, 2016 a sourceinformedmethattheChairperson of the board had a discussion with somebody where she revealed that she is under serious pressure from the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation to see to it that the CEO is fired at all costs. Apparently get information from company secretary (sic). Based on the above it’s now clear that there is an agenda, as I was always looking forward to a moment where there is cordial relationship between myself and in particular with the board chairperson.”
When contacted Tuesday for comment, Karauihe-Martin said she will only comment after Kandjii-Murangi has announced herself on the matter.
“I have received the letter. We will wait for the Minister of Higher Education to pronounce herself first.”
Nghiwete alleged that her victimisation began last year in March when Karauihe-Martin repeatedly interrupted Nghiwete while she was making a presentation in Swakopmund.
“…The board Chairperson of the Board kept on interrupting my presentation and uttering words such as ‘tell us what contracts have you signed’ and ‘tell us what are the recovery strategies?’ No doubt, the interruptions were aimed at embarrassing me in the presence of the staff members of the NSFAF. The environment became so hostile that a fellow board member had to intervene, and staff members (except managers) were asked to leave the room. Unfortunately, because of the interruptions by the Chairperson of the board, the strategy session ended abruptly. I was perplexed why I would be attacked and embarrassed in an open meeting with junior staff members present without these matters being discussed at a prior occasion.”
Nghiwete also mentions occasions where the NSFAF board early this month organised a staff retreat without her knowledge and she had to be informed by a junior employee of the event.
“The board contracted an external consultant, Logos, without my knowledge or involvement. As a matter of good corporate governance. I do not think that it is appropriate that non-executive directors be involved in such contractual matters.
“Further, I had to learn from a junior staff member that a staff retreat in November 2016 was being organised by the board. When I enquired for more information about the retreat, I was informed that there is a directive that nothing more should be divulged to me.”
Nghiwete also accused Karauihe- Martin of communicating with NSFAF staff about the parastatal’s official business behind her back.
“I had always been surprised by how the board chair is well informed about NSFAF operational issues sometimes even ahead of me knowing. For example submission from operation of the reconfiguring of the scanning of application forms from the Lex System to CIDE system. After board engagement with the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Chairperson of the board asked me about a submission to the board to seek more funds. I was not aware of the submission and inquired from the staff in the Operations Department. It was confirmed that the submission is still to be forwarded to me.”
Furthermore, the NSFAF CEO, alleges that Karauihe-Martin has been dragging to sign her performance agreement.
“Since May 2016, I had been requesting the Chairperson of the board for my performance agreement, but the meetings are cancelled at last minute. I have forwarded documents to her, but these are not attended to. The performance agreement sometime was forwarded to the Chairperson of Human Resource Committee with no proper briefing on what to do. It is draining to go through such a chase for something that supposed to go smoothly especially when one has already discussed in detail and all inputs and improvements have been incorporated. I started from 17th May 2016 to secure an appointment or feedback on my performance agreement until the 5th of October 2016.” The Minister of Public Enterprises revealed to Confidente that he has since ordered an investigation into the matter. “I have authorised a special investigation as per Section 29 of the Public Enterprises Governance Act. The terms of the reference of this investigation include all these and other governance related matters and the outcome of this exercise will guide our further actions. We will base our decision making exclusively on facts and not on fiction or allegations.”
Efforts to get comment from the Minister of Higher Education proved futile as several calls and text message to her mobile were not responded to.
Nghiwete was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.
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