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Bank Launches Music Bash

King Tee Dee performing at the launch of SB.09.MF. Photo: Rinelda Mouton

THE Standard Bank 09 Music Festival (SB.09.MF), a collaboration between Standard Bank Namibia and Mshasho, was launched in Windhoek on Monday.

I was angry – Betty Davids

Betty Davids

BEATA Siteketa, also known as the socialite Betty Davids, is bent on finding justice for herself over alleged defamatory remarks made by Independent Patriots for Change spokesperson Imms Nashinge, and has registered a charge of crimen injuria with the Namibian Police.

House of Poulton Meets Mixology

FASHION designer and lifestyle enthusiast Melisa Poulton will combine her love of fashion, entertainment and food with the House of Poulton Gin Cocktail Picnic Party set to debut later this month.


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Covid-19 and tax relief measures introduced globally

Image used for illustrative purposes.

THE global response to Covid-19 has been serious, from enforcing personal protection, restricting movement and large gatherings, and even to introducing tax relief on the import and supply of vaccines, test kits and personal protective gear.


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      Take Directors, Managers to Task; Liquidation is a Sideshow

      by Editorial Team

      THE ELEPHANT IS still in the room. Yet politicians and protesters keep shouting at the top of their lungs as if the liquidation of Air Namibia is the main issue.

      We can think of no other priority to address at Air Namibia and all state-owned enterprises (SOEs) than the lack of accountability by top executives and directors. Without that, the spirit of Air Namibia will be reincarnated and its ghost will come back to haunt us.

      In short, it will be back to business as usual.

      By accountability (in fact, lack thereof) we are referring to willful wrongdoing and sheer negligence rather than mistakes (even hugely disastrous ones) that are acceptable in the normal course of business.

      Air Namibia, SME Bank, the Roads Contractor Company (RCC) and the SSC-Avid Investment Corporation are perfect examples.

      That Air Namibia has failed to make a profit is not the punishable issue. What is astounding is the fact that directors and top managers have gotten away with constant mismanagement without being held responsible – even where evidence of corruption was presented.

      The latest incident will be watched carefully. This month, directors committed Air Namibia to pay a controversial debt of 9,8 million euro (about N$180 million) to Belgian company Challenge Air's liquidator Anicet Baum.

      This is after president Hage Geingob announced last year that Air Namibia would be liquidated. Ministers of finance and public enterprises reportedly also told Air Namibia not to expect any more bailouts from tax coffers.

      It will be interesting to see whether the directors would be pursued for defying the shareholders and guarantors, leaving Namibian taxpayers to pick up the tab.

      Between 2013 and 2015, Air Namibia's workforce nearly doubled from under 400 to more than 700.

      The fortunes of the company worsened as it got even bigger taxpayer bailouts. In sharp contrast, the fortunes of the directors and managers at the time improved: They got paid more or were dispatched with golden handshakes.

      Similarly at SME Bank, directors allowed taxpayer funds to be looted.

      Together with the Bank of Namibia, the directors condoned the failure by SME Bank's managers to submit financials for three years.

      That negligence has proven costly, with more than N$200 million stolen through money-laundering charges all but to be confirmed in court.

      Taxpayers face losses of about N$1 billion.

      At the RCC, several managers shamelessly went into the road construction business to compete with their eight-to-five weekday employer (the RCC itself).

      In all these cases the incidents were publicly exposed. The shareholder representatives and guarantors of bailouts cannot feign ignorance.

      The Social Security Commission (SSC) is the only case where some sort of accountability seems to have occurred.

      Paulus Kapia, a firebrand Swapo youth leader, and his fellow directors were hauled before the courts for failing in their duties as directors of Avid Investment Corporation, which fleeced the SSC of N$30 million.

      Sadly, SSC directors and managers got off scot-free.

      Alas, in hindsight, taking Kapia to task was a mere smokescreen. The main objective appeared to be to eliminate a political opponent in the ruling party's faction fights.

      Government leaders, the guardians of state resources, have been complicit in the maladministration and theft at parastatals.

      They have dismally failed in the powers they were entrusted with – to work in the best interest of Namibian citizens.

      Instead, they have rewarded incompetence and dereliction of duty.

      Politicians must address the accountability elephant in the room.

      They should not mislead the public with the sideshow of liquidation and similar band-aid approaches to create the impression they are cleaning up the governance of state-owned enterprises.

      Directors and managers of parastatals must be held accountable individually just as they are individually paid handsome board fees, outrageously excessive salaries and bonuses while gambling with Namibia's economic health.

      Hold directors and managers personally liable, and a major part of SOEs' non-performance would be solved.

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