Prime Minister Dr Hage Geingob has been dragged into the stand-off between the Social Security Commission (SSC) board, labour minister, Doreen Sioka and beleaguered CEO, Kenandai Kapara Tjivikua.
As chairperson of the State-owned Enterprise Governance Council (SOEGC), Geingob was copied in a letter dated October 24 from board chairman, Rick Kukuri, to Sioka, questioning the latter’s directive for the board’s resignation.
“Since you have directed this request to the board in the exercise of statutory powers, allow me to request you at this juncture, to advise the board in terms of which provision of the Social Security Act you intend to invoke the powers to request the board to resign,” wrote Kukuri.
The letter followed an oral request directed to the board of commissioners between 18 and 23 of this month, to tender their resignation in seven days, after Tjivikua was cleared of all the charges brought against him during an internal disciplinary hearing.
Kukuri furthered, “You, Honourable Minister, as an administrative official in terms of the Act, can only perform such duties and exercise such powers as you are enjoined by the enabling legislation to perform.”
He added, Sioka must present her arguments in writing, “in order for the commissioners to consider your request and the reasons thereof and to respond appropriately.”
However, Act No. 34 of 1994, Section 6 (2) says, the minister may remove any member of the Commission from office if the minister is satisfied that such a member; (a) is by reason of their physical or mental condition or for any other reason incapable of acting as a member of the Commission; (b) is guilty of conduct, which renders them unsuitable to continue to hold office as a member; or (c) has failed to comply with any provision of this Act or any condition of service determined under Section 5 (4).
Evidently so, for Sioka, the board of commission had harboured malicious intent by suspending the CEO for 11 months in which they subsequently took control of the commission’s resources.
Latest audited reports indicate the board chairman, from March 2012 until February 28, 2013, had received N$611 519.75 while unofficial audited reports show over the past eight months alone when Kapara was on suspension, the chairman pocketed over N$700 000. This is in contrast to the N$186 174.67 Kukuri received as sitting fees for the 2011/12 financial year.
The Villager has been informed by some of the commission’s senior management that board members do not leave the SSC when they go for meetings, until “their sitting fees have reflected in their phones.”
It now remains to be seen whether or not, as the appointing authority, Sioka‘s bid to normalise the SSC by bringing back Kapara and removing Kukuri et al, will be a success.
While the board seeks clarity on Sioka’s inherited dismissal powers, involving Geingob could be an olive branch move.
Geingob has previously stated that to solve the problems between parastatals and ministers, a new shift is needed.
“The boards and appointing authorities do not seem to understand their roles. I am commissioning an investigation on all SoEs because they all fall under this office. I want to see, through this investigation, whether or not the SOEGC can be chaired by technical people and not us politicians, not even by the PM. It should be a technical council full of experts. That council should then report to the Prime Minister. SoEs should perform as private sector does. Boards must be appointed on a professional level but there must be clarity on their roles. People talk about salary increments but never about productivity,” said Geingob in an earlier interview with The Villager.
According to the Act, SSC board should have three Government representatives, of whom one shall be nominated by the Minister of Finance, one by the Minister of Health and Social Services and one by the line minister; (c) three persons nominated by the trade unions; (d) three persons nominated by the employers’ organisations.
However, if the employers’ organisations or trade unions fail to submit the nominations within the period contemplated in subsection 2, the line minister may, subject to the provisions of paragraphs (c) and (d) of subsection (I), appoint any person as a member of the Commission.
Albert Biwa, Helena Kapenda and Ottilie Kutenda represent Government on the board while Derek Wright, Hofni Shikongo and Evelyn Breuer represent the employers. Asnath Zamuee, Connie Pandeni and Josef //Garoeb represent the trade unions.
//Garoeb protested to The Villager last week, saying he had not been suspended at Kalahari Sands but had mutually agreed to leave the company.
“I do not want this newspaper to retract or apologise. I want you to pay me for the damage you have done. This can only be settled by money, not an apology,” he was recorded as saying.