Kuzeeko Tjitemisa Windhoek-Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste on Monday dropped a bombshell by declaring that revival of the ailing Namibian economy is impossible if the status quo, regarding how public enterprises (PEs) are administered, is maintained. Radical transformations of PEs would thus be his main preoccupation this year, the minister said. To hit the long road ahead, Jooste would first tighten up efforts to curb corruption by conducting ‘special investigations’ in PEs where malpractice is suspected. If there happens to be credence to such suspicion, the investigation reports will be handed over to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) for further processing and eventual prosecution if warranted. Jooste has previously spoken out against trigger-happy boards of directors, who suspend CEOs without any tangible efforts to verify if such suspensions are warranted. Many victims of such acts have consistently complained about how their professional reputations are unfairly soiled by such suspensions, which most of the time give impressions of wrongdoing. “Please take note that there should not be an assumption that all our special investigations are aimed to target corruption,” Jooste was quick to point out. “These probes take multiple forms and are also intended to identify corporate governance failures, flawed policies, structural constraints and to then propose suitable remedial actions.” He said the process to transform Namibian public enterprises will be complicated and even unpleasant at times. “But we are led by our conviction that every proposal we make and every decision we take will always be in the best interest of the nation and the respective public enterprise, rather than the interest of an individual or a group of individuals.” According to Jooste, the reality that is the successful revival of the economy will not be possible if the status quo is maintained. He said the year 2018 will be recorded as the year where the state, as the shareholder, is transformed from a passive shareholder to a professional active shareholder. In this process, he assured, governance boundaries will be respected but deliberate and decisive calculated interventions will take place as and when required to protect the interest of the state as the representative of the people of Namibia. Governance boundaries have been an issue of serious concern, with boards sometimes accused of involvement in operational matters of PEs, including tender processes. The new Public Procurement Act does not give boards any role in matters related to procurement by PEs. “We at the Ministry of Public Enterprises are ready and excited about the year ahead when we will truly activate our mandate to, together with all of you, transform our public enterprises into model enterprises that each and every one of our 2,4 million Namibians are proud of,” he said, while addressing CEOs, MDs and boards of the country’s PEs in Windhoek. “May the next months be a period of magnificent transformation.” His pledge come just a week after Transparency International’s corruption perception index for 2017, released last week, ranked Namibia 53rd out of 180 countries globally, and fifth in Africa. The index, topped by New Zealand as the least corrupt country in the world, measures perception of corrupt countries. Namibia had dropped one place from 52nd the previous year, meaning there was a stronger perception of corruption in the country in 2017 than it was in 2016.
2018-02-28 08:55:03 6 months ago