It appears that it is going to business unusual at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism following a change in modus operandi. This was the indication given by newly appointed Minister of Environment and Tourism Hon. Pohamba Shifeta when he addressed industry stakeholders during a consultative meeting held in the capital this week.
High on his agenda was the need for State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to operate as listed companies under his tenure as tourism minister, calling on the boards of directors and senior management to work together for the good of the SOEs they manage.
During his address, Shifeta cautiously advised directors. “Sometimes I wonder how do you appoint auditors. Some companies have not even had Annual General Meetings for three years. An AGM is a must. These are statutory obligations. You will be taken to civil or criminal court. I want us to understand that. Those that are established by statutes, understand your Act, understand the Companies Act, understand the State Finances Act. You will understand how things work. Appoint company secretaries immediately, call annual general meetings immediately. You are deemed by law to be the care-taker.”
“You are in charge. Whatever you do touches the public. You have not seen an SOE taken to task [yet]. You can be charged with anything that goes wrong. Whatever you do, [senior] managers will not be taken to task, directors will. If you just decorum, decor.., decor.., that is where the problems start,” Shifeta said.
“As managing directors, we tend to undermine the boards we appoint. We approach people that may not understand the issues. I sympathise with the board, if I was some of them, I would resign. Before you taint your reputation, it is better to move out, to save your reputation. Some of the directors are not even ashamed to ask for renewal. If you do bad things, you better quit to save your reputation,” said Shifeta emphatically.
Citing an instance when a State-Owned Enterprise used employees tax money, Shifeta said, “We deduct PAYE but do not pay it over to the Receiver of Revenue. It happens in State-Owned Enterprises. Some of it is used for operations. It does not belong to you, it belongs to the creditor. It is theft. Seriously it is theft. I do not want to see that,” he stated calmly. Shifeta stressed his open door policy. “My door is always open. I don’t want you to fear anyone, approach me.”