THE Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (Nipam) will have to undergo a complete overhaul due to the recruitment of under-qualified managers and trainers sanctioned by then Acting Executive Director Elsie Nghikembua in 2012. Some of these managers and trainers allegedly lack the relevant experience in their fields.
Documents in the possession of the Windhoek Observer show that a number of unqualified people allegedly hired by the then Acting Executive Director occupy jobs in which they cannot perform.
As a result, Nipam has become heavily reliant on the use of external consultants because of a lack of internal capacity to deliver on its mandate.
Some of the consultants applied for the jobs that the institution currently outsources to them.
At the time when Nghikembua was Acting Executive Director, Nipam appointed Hendrina Halueendo as an Executive Assistant without advertising the position.
Halueendo previously worked as Nghikembua’s private secretary at the National Council.
Nghikembua chaired the interview instead of recusing herself from the process. According to sources at the institution, the interview appeared more of a stage-managed performance than a genuine interview.
Sylvia Demas, who currently works as a Senior Lecturer at Nipam, is reportedly a cousin of Nghikembua’s.
At the time Nipam recruited her back in 2012, she had applied for the position of Director: Consultancy and Research.
The requirements for this position as advertised were a Masters degree in Social Science or equivalent proven managerial experience in a people oriented environment, plus nine years experience of managing, consulting and research related activities.
Sylvia holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Zoology and a Masters in Demography.
Nipam sources say it remains a mystery how she even made the short-list for an interview.
According to the minutes of the interviews that Nghikembua chaired from 19-24 January 2012 at the Nipam campus, the panel made several observations after it interviewed Demas for the director position.
“Not recommended as director. Although she demonstrated experience in research and consultancy, she was vague in responding to some questions posed at the interview; she also lacks skills and is recommended for appointment as a Senior Lecturer,” the minutes read.
According to well-placed sources at the institution, the mishandled recruitments two years ago have seen external consultants become Nipam’s biggest competitors because the client naturally prefers to make use of them directly at the expense of Nipam.
“Nipam was created to add capacity to Government, and you don’t get the change you are looking for when you just hire people from other Government agencies, such as Sylvia Demas who came from the NPC.
“Those doing the lecturing need to either be academics or industry specialists in their respective fields and this is the only way Nipam will fulfil its mandate.
“The few and competent trainers that were hired under Nghikembua have since resigned, because Elsie Nghikembua led us to believe that in addition to our salaries, Nipam would pay us 50% of what we generate as a consultancy allowance.
“This promise, among others, is contrary to Nipam’s approved policies, which forced many to leave because she could not deliver on her promises for consultancy fees, foreign travel and promotions,” the source said.
In the same 2012 interviews chaired by Nghikembua, Birgit Hoffman applied for the position of Chief Strategic Communications and Quality Assurance Officer.
The position required a Masters degree in Business Administration/Marketing/Public Relations, or the equivalent professional qualification, plus nine years experience in developing, executing and leading a comprehensive communication and marketing strategy.
Hoffman holds a BA (Hon.) and Masters degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology, and at the time had little to no experience in quality assurance.
Sources at the institution believe that her lack of experience in quality assurance led Nipam to ask the Polytechnic of Namibia to assist in quality assurance matters.
The interviewing panel did not find Hoffman suitable for the job.
In their minutes, the interview panel stated that although they would not nominate her as the Chief Strategic and Corporate Communication Officer “she has excellent marketing skills and sufficient experience demonstrated in the interview.
“She is recommended for appointment as Manager: Corporate Services,” the minutes read.
In February of 2012, Nipam offered and Hoffman accepted the position as Manager of Communications and Corporate Services, a position the institution also did not advertise.
She worked until Nipam suddenly promoted her to Chief Strategic Communications and Corporate Affairs Officer, a position she has held ever since. In a brief interview on Thursday, the current Executive Director of Nipam Joseph Diescho said he had heard rumours about the recruitments of 2012, but said he could not comment as the events took place before his time.
He, however, confirmed that the training capacity of the institution was very weak, and that Nipam was in the process of an entire overhaul of training staff and management that it had deemed not suited for their positions.
“When I first joined Nipam I needed to understand the mandate of the institution and the expectations of Government. Now that I do, I see that we definitely need to re-shuffle or reorganise the leadership,” Diescho said.
The Executive Director further remarked that the institution needs to attract people that the market believes in and sees value in, and that this may affect the current composition of the team.
“This is a normal process of renewal and we have external consultants re-viewing our entire structure who will make recommendations to the council at the next council meeting,” Diescho said.
Nipam expect its next council meeting to take place sometime in October. Contacted for comment Nghikembua was in a meeting and remained unreachable until the time of going print.
By Diana Ndimbira for the Windhoek Observer