TRANSNAMIB chief executive officer Sara Naanda allegedly interfered with the tender process after her private company lost a contract to administer her employer's pension fund.
Naanda's company Elite Consulting Namibia lost the TransNamib Retirement Fund contract, which it had been administering since 2008, to Riscura Consulting early this year.
Naanda acquired a 20% stake in Elite Consulting Namibia and became a director last year, shortly after she became TransNamib's CEO.
Sources told The Namibian that Naanda, who was still the chairperson of the pension fund board of trustees, recused herself when the decision to terminate her company's contract was made.
According to the sources, when Naanda heard about the awarding of the contract to Riscura, she allegedly recommended that the decision should be reviewed. She also allegedly questioned whether awarding the contract to Riscura was in the best interests of TransNamib.
Furthermore, the sources said Naanda allegedly complained bitterly to the pension fund board of trustees, saying that TransNamib was being disadvantaged by the change.
The sources said she also allegedly questioned the authenticity of the meeting which awarded the contract to Riscura Consulting, as well as Riscura's experience and the fact that they are more expensive than Elite Consulting Namibia.
She allegedly wanted an assessment done on the Riscura Consulting employees - looking at their experience and qualifications - and proposed that the decision to give the contract to Riscura Consulting not be made final until her concerns were addressed. After failing to persuade the other pension fund trustees, Naanda allegedly sought recourse with the company's board of directors, requesting them to review and overrule the trustees' decision.
Naanda's apparent conflict caught the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority's (Namfisa) attention, which is said to have advised TransNamib to rectify the situation.
As a result, the TransNamib Retirement Fund Board of Trustees decided to remove Naanda as the chairperson in June this year and replace her with the head of human resources manager, Webster Gonzo. Namfisa CEO Phillip Shiimi refused to give details but confirmed that the authority did “conduct a routine inspection” in February this year.
TransNamib board chairperson Peter Oosthuizen dismissed the claims, saying they “are not focused on rumours”. He also said the board is not investigating Naanda and the board but working with the CEO to turn the company around.
“We are not going to entertain rumours,” said Naanda, when asked about her alleged conflict of interest. She refused to comment further.
Naanda made headlines when she was controversially appointed Trans Namib CEO while she served on the company's board of directors as deputy chairperson. She was also responsible for headhunting a potential CEO for the company but ended up getting the post herself.
During her first few months in office, Naanda was accused of committing the cash-strapped company to spending on non-essential things like a luxury vehicle and refurbishing her office. The Namibian understands that Naanda's office has an annual budget of N$17 million, which is allegedly unexplained.
By Tileni Mongudhi The Namibian