Foreign appointment raises stink at Air Namibia

April 7, 2015, 8:29am

Foreign appointment raises stink at Air Namibia

National Airliner, Air Namibia employed a German national, Aloise Jonach, as the General Manager for Training in a position that was advertised internally, without giving locals an opportunity to apply through public advertising, The Villager can reveal.
Investigations show that although the parastatal’s board was given a last minute opportunity to endorse the appointment of the German national, they were not given enough time to deliberate on the appointment.
Air Namibia Board Chairperson, Harald Schmidt confirmed that the airliner engaged the services of Jonach based on the recommendations of the Chief Operations Officer and Acting Managing Director, who is the Accountable Manager, Rene Gsponer.
 “How can the board make a decision like that if it only sat down twice? People were invited and there was a committee that interviewed the shortlisted candidates who were about five and they were all foreign nationals,” he said.
He added that Air Namibia appointed the foreign national in accordance with his rare skills needed to carry out the job.
“The board is not involved in the appointment of a position at that level. The MD only shared that with the board that is how we got involved. This is the process in any big organisation such as Air Namibia” Schmidt said.
Schimdt, whose term of office lapses on June 31 this year, also told The Villager that there is nothing amiss with the appointment of Jonach as he is supposed to be employed directly by the Accounting Manager (Rene Gsponer) without consulting the board.
“His appointment was done by the Accountable Manager as per the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) regulations. We are not supposed to interfere in that as per aviation rules and in case if anything goes wrong, then the accountable Manager is expected to take full responsibility for the appointment. Jonach is a very seasoned pilot with a lot of experience that is needed in training. Perhaps that was the basis on which he was engaged.”
Despite Schmidt’s assertions however, internal sources at the beleaguered airliner told The Villager that Jonach’s appointment caused discontent among Senior Managers at the airliner as they believe that the management did not do due diligence in giving qualified Namibians an opportunity to apply for the vacancy.
Some sources also raised concern over the manner in which Jonach got to know about the job which was only advertised within the organisation.
“Not long after the advertisement of the position, Aloise Jonach, a German national was introduced to the organisation as the Training Manager, a position which was not externally advertised for Namibian nationals to apply,” a source said.
Jonach, who has been working as a freelance pilot for the better part of last month is believed to have been remunerated a figure close to N$80 000 for his services over a period of two weeks. According to sources close to the matter, the payment was deposited into a bank account in Jonach’s name, based in Hong Kong. The payment was also completed as an invoice instead of a salary that is paid to other Air Namibia employees.
Investigations by The Villager also show that the Air Namibia Board had to rubber-stamp the appointment as they were not properly updated on the issue due to the inconsistent nature of their meetings in the better part of last year.
The Villager understands that the Board of the parastatal has not been meeting constantly to map the way forward for Air Namibia. However, Schmidt vehemently denies that the board has not been, since its appointment, been meeting regularly as it is mandated by the corporate governance charter for Public entities.
The recently adorned Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Leon Jooste told The Villager that he is not updated on the meetings or appointments of Air Namibia staff because his ministry has not yet been briefed on the operations of SOEs.
 Jooste said the Attorney General is still to formalise the amendments that will transfer SOEs under the Ministry of State Owned Enterprises.
“We still need to make the amendment, currently we are working on the administrative infrastructure so the ministry cannot deal with that now. It will still fall under the line ministry but we are setting up so we can deal with matters like that,” Jooste said.
The Villager also understands that although Jonach has not been issued with an appointment letter yet, he has already been put on the payroll of Air Namibia as its Training Manager who works as a freelance pilot for only two weeks per month.
The National Airliner is driving a strategic-turn-around plan that aims to reverse its fortunes and create self-sustenance without heavy reliance on the treasury.
With the view of assisting the parastatal to improve its operations and also to arrive closer to profitability, Government appointed the Schmidt-led Board of directors to steer Air Namibia out of the murky waters of poor financial performance. The Board consist of different experts in different fields.

by Linekela Halwoodi and Tiri Masawi: The Villager