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A “Haimbili sequel”: Will it ever play out?

SOE bosses pull your socks up

The tragicomedy involving the former CEO of TransNamib, Titus Haimbili – who was recently relieved of his duties by the parastatal’s board – must have left many people who daily masquerade as CEOs or managing directors of our state owned enterprises shivering.
The Haimbili case is tragic in the sense that for so long, both the media and the public have been very vocal about the non-delivery by most of the CEOs of our parastatals who are obscenely compensated for not doing anything without any visible form of action being taken against these chancers.
It is a tragedy that Haimbili was allowed to reign over TransNamib for a very long time, almost running the parastatal to the ground without any action being taken against him. It’s equally comical that up to this day, Haimbili is probably the only person in this world who feels that he does not deserve to be given the boot because, in his wisdom, he has done nothing wrong to warrant such action from the board.
Before the Haimbili tragicomedy played out in the public gallery in recent weeks, it almost seemed that if you were a chief executive officer or managing director of an SOE you were granted immunity from “persecution” even after glaringly showing a lack of capacity to do your job.
Since August 2006, when the SOE Governance Act was signed to make provision for efficient governance of SOEs and the monitoring of their performance, we have seen very few notable people being found on the wrong side of this law even though it is widely acknowledged that many of the SOE leaders have for a number of years now not justified their occupation of lucrative positions.
In his presentation “Assessing the Performance of State Owned Enterprises in Namibia – Financial Regulation Point of View” at a forum organised by the Namibia Economic Society in 2010, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Calle Schlettwein, said that over the period 2000/2001 to 2009/10, less than 1% of government revenue came from SOE dividends despite taking about 10% of government total expenditure in subsidies.
The collective inaction by the various boards and line ministers to act against non-performing and “wayward” CEOs might have fooled the likes of Haimbili into thinking that it was OK to sit around in the office and pretend to be working and still get away with a monthly salary and the accompanying perks. How else does one explain the complete disregard of company policies and the rules of good corporate governance, which was a hallmark of Haimbili’s stewardship of TransNamib.
In my last contribution to this column, I wrote about how it pays to be incompetent and most people felt that I had just arrived from Mars and was a bit harsh in my assessment of the level of (in) competence in the public sector in general. However, Haimbili’s conduct at the helm of TransNamib justifies my claims.
TransNamib is a very big institution, which plays a very important, if not, key role in the economic development of this country. It does not deserve a leader who does nothing but count the remaining days to the next pay cheque. The TransNamib board should be commended for finally seeing the light and telling Haimbili that no, the company was not his personal fiefdom in which he could do as he pleases.
The board needs to be given a pat on the back for telling Haimbili that his time in the sun was now over in an environment when most boards appear to be only interested in getting their sitting allowances and nothing else.
The move by the TransNamib board gives hope that maybe, just maybe, we might have turned a corner and all non-performing CEOs should start putting their acts together for the days of sitting in the office scheming to defraud your company instead of working are over. I hope, for the sake of development that we will see a “Haimbili sequel” playing out soon. Be warned comrades!

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