09 Nov 2013 12:30pm
WINDHOEK, 09 NOV (NAMPA) - The Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Doreen Sioka has fired the Board members of the Social Security Commission (SSC).
Albert Biwa, Helena Kapenda and Ottilie Katenda represented Government on the Board, while Derek Wright, Hofni Shikongo and Evelyn Breuer represented the employers. Asnath Zamuee, Connie Pandeni and Josef //Garoeb represented the trade unions.
A media statement issued by the Labour Ministry and published in a local daily on Friday said Sioka fired the Board members on 01 November and 05 November 2013 respectively, while two members resigned voluntarily.
Sioka is said to have taken immediate steps to fill their positions.
The minister has taken immediate steps to fill the Board positions for the unexpired terms of the former Commissioners by writing to trade unions, employers and the Ministers of Finance and Health and Social Services to invite nominations for appointment to the Commission, the statement said.
An official notice will also appear in the Government Gazette on 15 November 2013, inviting nominations by trade unions and employer organisations of persons of integrity possessing specified qualifications no later than 22 November 2013.
Approached for comment on Friday, Board chairperson Rick Kukuri told Nampa on Friday he was clueless about their removal and about the fact that the minister fired them.
It is news to me. If the ministry or minister issued that statement, then I believe they did it within their mandate, he noted.
Sioka had many reasons for her decision, according to the statement.
One is the indefinite suspension of SSC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kapara Tjivikua on unspecified grounds of serious misconduct, namely of insubordinance, disobedience and related acts of misconduct late last year. Tjivikua was suspended without disciplinary charges. The Board did not consult with Sioka before taking action, according to the statement.
Local media reported that Tjivikuas alleged refusal to buy iPads for the commission's Board members led to his suspension. The Board apparently also had complaints that Tjivikua had spoken disrespectfully and had not allowed meaningful participation by the Board at a workshop and had not informed the Board properly about a meeting at State House, amongst other things.
However, under the heading post-hearing events leading to the removal or resignation of the members of Board commissioners, the statement said the chairperson and one Board member met with the minister to brief her on the outcome of the hearing and how the Board would address the recommendations of a report they had issued and handed over to the minister. During that meeting, the Board chair also persisted that Tjivikua should bear the blame, which led to Sioka doubting whether the Board would be able to work with Tjivikua, according to the statement.
Several preliminary meetings took place before the hearing, with a total of 10 days of hearings being held over a period of eight months. The hearings were completed in October 2013.
On 08 October 2013, hearing chairperson Advocate Sackey Akweenda found Tjivikua not guilty of all charges.
The CEO will resume his duties on 17 November this year.
The Board agreed to pay Tjivikuas legal fees of N.dollars 285 000.
Sioka is said to have been angered by the monies the Board Members spent on the various decisions they took.
The costs of the commissions pursuit of Tjivikuas disciplinary charges amounted to more than N.dollars 1,5 million.
This include initiators fees of more than N.dollars 886 000 and hearing chair fees calculated at more than N.dollars 374 000. More than N.dollars 292 000 was made out for payments to seven Board members in the form of sitting allowances and consultancy fees for meeting with Sioka, as well as conducting special Board meetings to discuss the charges and meeting with the initiator, and attending disciplinary hearing as witnesses. Of the total amount, N.dollars 175 000 was paid to Kukuri.
Tjivikuas salary and the acting allowances for the acting CEO, General Manager of Operations David Kendjeele, exceed N.dollars 3 million.
All of the above factors contributed to the ministers loss of confidence and gave the minister reason to believe that the commissioners had engaged in conduct that rendered them unsuitable to continue as commissioners, the statement stressed.