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My conscience is clear – Haimbili

Haimbili says the TransNamib board led by Festus Lameck, interfered with the day-to-day operations of the company such that he was left a powerless man.
“State Owned Enterprises have now evolved into political organisations which results in ethical dilemmas usually between the board and the CEO. This is signified by the high turnover of CEOs and boards ever since these companies were established and the trend continue to this day.
“You will find that there is no clear cut line of responsibilities between the board and the CEO. There is a lot of cross cutting interference in operational matters. That is why the State Owned Enterprises are in a mess. There is a lot of interference in operational matters,” says Haimbili.
He argues that a CEO must be given the autonomy to manage the company if he is to be effective, something which he never had.
“If you are given a responsibility, you must be given the autonomy to carry out that responsibility. When you don’t have clear lines of responsibility, in most of the case, your CEO, who is the main man on the ground is put into a situation which equates to a driver who is given a car without a key.
“It has been historically like that at TransNamib but I don’t want to dwell on the details because that is a legal and labour issue and I am still pursuing my (court) case.”
Haimbili blames the TransNamib board for stopping a re-alignment exercise, which he says, was meant to address the manpower problems that were crippling the parastatal.
“ A CEO must be given the manpower capacity.
“I joined TransNamib in January 2008. Then I was alone as a CEO with a skeleton staff. I only had a general manager of engineering and general manager for operations. Only two general manager positions were filled out of five. Already that is a capacity problem.”
To address that manpower problem, Haimbili says, a re-alignment programme was introduced and a consultant appointed by the board but unfortunately the re-alignment project was stopped and the consultant booted.
“He (consultant) was addressing the lack of human resources capacity especially at management  and operational level in order to run the operations effectively, but regrettably he was booted out and this re-alignment project came to a standstill.
“The reason for the cancellation of the programme is only known to themselves (the board). Suddenly the consultant was irregularly appointed and apparently there was no service agreement.
But the service agreement was drawn and handed over to the board without any reaction from them.”
He also blames the TransNamib board for delaying in the recruitment of key personnel. The critical position of general manager for human resources has never been filled since Albertus !Naruseb was suspended and subsequently dismisssed early last year. “Since this is a board appointment, only the board knows why they delayed in making an appointment.”
The former general manager for finance, Nico Goosen also resigned in December 2010 and his position was only filled by the board in August 2011.
“So if you look at the Deloitte and Touché report which points out deficiencies in the SAP system then this is a system which is under procurement of which the responsibility lies with the general manager of finance and the general manager of HR whose appointment is still outstanding.
“Now if you say that the CEO is responsible for the failure of the system, then the board must also be accountable because of the delays in appointing personnel to the two key positions. The board is now washing their hands and their decision to single out  the CEO is questionable in terms of collective decision making.”
The former railways boss spoke of the need for a thorough independent investigation at TransNamib commissioned by the government before the company is run to the ground.
“TransNamib needs to be subjected to a thorough independent investigation commissioned by the shareholder if one needs to come to the bottom of the problem. These unfair dismissals are just a tip of the iceberg, there are more to it and the truth will eventually come out.
“TransNamib is a complex company but an independent investigation is needed before it is too late. The issue of creating an SOE ministry is also important because then you will have a focal point and accountability.”
Haimbili told the Economist that he is leaving TransNamib with a clear conscience because he never did anything wrong. “I came to TransNamib with a vision of revitalising the railways in Namibia as well as in the region and I think I have done a very good job.”
He says he managed to steer the perennial loss-making company to a N$75 million profit in the 2010 financial year, which is proof of his leadership quality. “I am not taking the credit alone but we did this together with the board.”
Haimbili questions why he was dismissed for incompetence when he was elevated to head the Southern African Railway Association first as its deputy president and later on as the president.
“If I am inefficient or incompetent, will I be elected to head such a body like SARA (Southern African Railway Association) consisting of 12 railways including Transnet of South Africa which is one of the biggest railways in Southern Africa if not in Africa. So the fact that I was elevated to such a regional level; cannot be equated to incompetency.”
Festus Lameck, chairperson of the TransNamib board, did not respond to questions e-mailed to him at the time of going to press.

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