Two damning petitions within a span of ten days alluding to serious governance deficiencies at the National Housing Enterprise, that purportedly emanated from the institution’s management, have called into question the future of the state-owned housing provider.
The latest petition claims the NHE has neglected its own strategic plan by, amongst others, building a mere 600 out of 5 000 houses planned for between 2017 and 2022.
“We, the management of the NHE, view this petition as a necessary pro-active decisive step that seeks to avert further deterioration in the overall performance and governance of the NHE. Unfortunately, the current board of directors and the CEO, do not, unlike us, place the interests of the NHE and the people NHE is required to serve first and should be replaced,” reads the latest petition issued on Friday. The first petition was issued on 01 April 2021.
The petition, claiming to have been penned by NHE’s top management, also called for the board of directors not to renew the employment contract of NHE CEO Gisbertus Mukulu when it ends on 30 June 2021.
When contacted for comment, Mukulu said the petitions are an internal matter and would be dealt with internally by all parties involved. “I will only provide comments after this matter is discussed by the parties involved,” he told New Era.
Besides the NHE board, the latest petition was also addressed to both the Minister of Urban and Rural Development Erastus Uutoni and Leon Jooste, the Minister of Public Enterprises.
Jooste yesterday told New Era that while NHE falls under the urban and rural development portfolio, the public enterprises ministry will assist to look into and find solutions for NHE.
Meanwhile, Friday’s petition described the NHE CEO’s performance as “dismal” as the institution failed to achieve two critical objectives of its strategic plan, namely growing its loan book and building 1 250 houses annually.
The petition reads: “During Mr Gisbertus Mukulu’s tenure, NHE has built less than 600 houses against an ever-widening gap of housing shortages in Namibia. Under the leadership of the CEO, NHE operational income has declined to the extent that it hardly meets its salary obligations. Income from the Mass Housing Development Programme is what keeps NHE afloat. The Mass Housing Development Programme is not an initiative of Mr Gisbertus Mukulu but of his predecessor. The CEO lacks the necessary leadership skills to articulate and promote a modern and robust vision for the NHE. In this regard, a capacity assessment was conducted and paid for by the NHE, which confirms the lack of leadership and strategic capacity in NHE. The CEO lacks experience in the strategic and operational management of the NHE and has no understanding of the functioning of, and the requirements placed on an institution such as NHE.”
The distressed managers also bemoaned NHE’s financial position, saying it has become so dire that the executive committee has considered retrenching staff whereas the Public Enterprises Governance Act clearly provides for executives to be dismissed when they fail their performance agreements.
The NHE petitions further decry the lack of available serviced land for housing development, particularly as the NHE is largely absent from national plans such as the Harambee Prosperity Plan II and the national budget.
Also calling for conflict of interests to be addressed on the NHE board itself, the petition notes that NHE was fined a sum of N$7 million, later reduced to N$2 million, for the board of directors failure to ensure the CEO was held accountable for the NHE’s non-compliance with the Financial Intelligence Act.