This week in the Khuta – Kaapanda for President
At the risk of being sued, I would like to congratulate the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Comrade Joel Kaapanda for acting swiftly and decisively in “suspending” the embattled chairman of MTC, lawyer Dirk Conradie.
While playing the role of a proud guest of Namdeb last week in Oranjemund, news filtered through that one of Windhoek’s prominent lawyers, Conradie was at the centre of a corruption storm after he was implicated in a case involving Sarah Damases the wife of his former business partner He is alleged to have approached DV8 Saatchi & Saatchi to take Damases on board as a Black Economic Empowerment partner in return for a multimillion dollar MTC advertising tender.
However, the purpose of this piece is not to comment on the merits or demerits of Conradie’s “empowerment crusade” as that is for the courts to decide as they are competent in that aspect. What I would like to comment on as alluded to earlier is the swift, almost military response, if you like, of minister Kaapanda. Now that is how a minister should act when faced with a scandal that is likely to bring a company or a ministry into disrepute.
For the good minister to do what he did, in the time and manner that he did, I think he deserves a case of Bells. It’s a pity if he doesn’t drink. That is decisive leadership right there. I am not aware of any pressure that was being exerted on the minister to take the right step that he took, but what I know for a fact is that MTC, and indeed the minister, as the appointing authority, led the way in dealing with a scandal. The rest of us can only watch and learn.
It is unAfrican for someone involved in a scandal that is likely to bring a company or organisation they represent into disrepute, to resign of their own accord. Examples abound of people who have fought tooth and nail to stick it out no matter the consequences or reputational damage for both company and individual. So in the absence of such test cases, there was need for true leadership to be shown, and the minister did just that.
It is only right for any accused, especially someone with a high profile position, to step aside for a moment until their case is finalised without dragging the name of their organisation through the mud. It doesn’t mean that when you do that you are guilty, but it only serves to show how considerate you are.
As the media we are quick to apportion blame whenever someone is accused of one thing or the other but at the same time I feel we don’t give enough credit when it is due. To me, Kaapanda is one of the unsung heroes of this country. His ministry is one of the best run, and most ,if not all, of the parastatals under his wing have performed fairly well financially.
As an aside, I would like to see Parliament playing a more prominent role in issues of corporate governance. I stand to be corrected but it seems the only parliamentary committee that is active is the Committee on Public Accounts. Other committees seem to be dormant. We should be able to see different parliamentary committees coming to the fore whenever a scandal has broken out to ensure greater accountability and to enforce the perception of competence.
This week the British Parliament quickly summoned Bob Diamond, who resigned as Barclays chief executive on Tuesday in the wake of the inter-bank interest rate-fixing scandal. He was questioned by MPs about the rate rigging, specifically about who knew what and when. We need to see more of the same in this country.