THE pace of squables and infights amongst Boards of Directors of State-owned Enterprises (SOEs), their management and line ministries have reached unprecedented rate thereby regressing the performance of SOEs.
The saying that “when elephants fight, it is only the grass that suffers”, typifies the state of affairs at our parastatals because of self-serving interests of some of the Board members and management cadres of SOEs, in some instances.
Majority of SOEs have been mainly pre-occupied by legal fights stemming from purported irregular “tender awards” or endless efforts to get rid of their disfavoured chief executive officers. Consequently, as a result of personal interests and egos amongts the stewards of the SOEs, most the semi-state organisations have lost focus of their mandate and instead beset by financially draining infights.
Cabinet ought to empower Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste’s “Hybrid Governance System” and governance measures to provide effective stewardship and improve the performance.
Often, Boards of Directors, some of which have assumed daily management responsibilities at parastatals, seem to be a loggerheads with the management of these SOEs and also with the line Ministers they are supposed to report.
Disagreements between Board members and management of SOEs have in most cases centred on the awarding of contracts, with allegations that some Board members were pusing to benefit directly or have their cronies benefit from such tenders. While, line Ministers have expressed unhappiness over the number of times some of these SOE Boars sits and the allowances they claim in sitting an other fees.
In some cases some Board members have been accused of deliberately frustrating CEOs of SOEs as they themselves were interested in the top positions at the State-owned entities. There are several cases of Board members who have ended up being appointed CEOs at SOEs that they preside over.
Certainly this state of affairs does not augur well for the effective discharge of duties by various SOEs, especially in Namibia where the majority of parastatals are battling to stay aflaot.
While Boards of SOEs have the overall responsibility of safeguarding the interest of the sharholder (in this case the State) and ensuring that the SOEs operate as responsible corporate citizens by giving policy and ethical direction, many seem to have come short in ensuring this responsibility.
Most Board members find themselves embroiled in the micro-management or even meddling in the affairs of SOEs that Management can handle.
It is also essential to appoint Board members who are well versed with the functions of the SOEs they are appointed to preside over. Obviously, for a Board to be effective it needs to have a clear understanding of its roles and responsibilities.
It is critical that Boards must focus their attention on issues of critical importance to the SOEs they serve. Lately, Boards of TransNamib, Namibia Airports Company, Namcor, Air Namibia and Namibia Training Authority have been making the news but mostly for wrong reasons.
There needs to be a process for evaluating the performance of Board members and minimise the current state of affairs where the same members sit on various Boards.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015