Do not be reactionaries

July 27, 2015, 9:54am

Do not be reactionaries

Chickens came home to roast in the NamPower Board room last week with the suspension of Chief Officer of Technical Services O’Brien Hekandjo, Senior Manager for Energy Trading, Werner Graupe and Managing Director Paulinus Shilamba over granting a consultancy service N$30m although it could have cost an estimated N$2million.
The simple issue here is that while it is imperative that NamPower Board of Directors took a relevant decision to clear the mess by dealing decisively with the three, there is a disturbing culture of reactionaries at the power utility. What happened last week could have been avoided by the board.
The same power utility suffered a major setback not so long ago when the Minister of Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze pulled the rug from the management feet and stopped the proposed controversial 250 Megawatt Power plant from being executed.
The 250 MW power plant which many have viewed as usurping the potential of the Kudu Gas Power plant was also another careless decision that the NamPower management made.
It raised eyebrows why Government would engage in such an expensive venture on the sidewalks of the well planned Kudu Gas Power plant which has potential to turn Namibia from a net importer to a net exporter of power. Of course there was undue political influence in the way the 250MW power plant was driven and a few big names wanted to take care of their life time pensions with public money.
We have also seen NamPower make some very serious blunders which in many occasions have put the country’s power supply on the ropes. What is worrisome though is that the board tries to exonerate itself by sending the suspended trio to the cleaners in a reactionary manner.
It is pretty obvious that when the mess steered by Shilamba was taking place at the power utility, it happened right under their noses. Working up today and pulling a reactionary stunt where this trio is sent on suspension after a long time means there is need for more scrutiny in the way the management at the power utility handles its business.
It even took the Minister’s intervention to save tax payers money from being chewed in a questionable venture like the 250 MW plant while corporate governance policies stipulate that the board should decide on such anomalies in a manner that shows that they are in control of the institution.
Perhaps it is partly commendable that the board has smelt the coffee and is doing the right thing but some or all of them somehow need to also take the responsibility for what the trio is being accused of.
They were there when the country was being pushed to the fringes of darkness by clear poor management decision making, they were also there when the hefty cheque in question was being signed for such an exorbitant price as reported in the media, they were there when the tell tell signs of poor decision making on a vital institution were being made and they were definitely there when the Minister had to invoke his powers to save the country billions.
It is not up to us to play judge, jury and executioner for NamPower and its blunders but we believe that when a captain of a team is slackening then the whole team should be held accountable by the coach in this case the board.
When the coach plays blame game and prefers to fold his hands when the whole team is being taken to the cleaners by an inconsistent captain, only to change him later for mistakes that were visible then that coach has a short coming.
One would expect that going forward NamPower needs cool heads who understand the detriments of insufficient power at cost reflectivity for the general economy. Working up and blowing a reactionary whistle won’t deliver us from the mistakes of the past.