Hengari Confirmed as NWR Boss

After nearly four years without a managing director, Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) yesterday officially confirmed the appointment of Zelna Hengari as the new MD.

Hengari has been acting in that position since 4 February, 2013, after some senior managers at the parastatal also served in a caretaker capacity on a rotational basis.

The NWR has been without an MD after Tobie Aupindi left the company in December 2010 to pursue interests in petroleum exploration.

Hengari, previously the NWR company secretary, confirmed her appointment yesterday. “Yes, I received my letter of appointment today. I can’t comment further on the subject,” she told New Era.

A statement later released by NWR quoted the newly-confirmed MD as saying: “I certainly know that the responsibility conferred on me by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism along with my Board is one that I accept with humility and gratitude. I therefore see my tenure being one where we get NWR to be more profitable and deliver to our shareholder.”

It is understood that the idea to appoint Hengari permanently has enjoyed the support of the NWR board of directors – currently chaired by Lea Namoloh – as well as Uahekua Herunga, the Minister of Environment and Tourism. Cabinet endorses the appointment of all heads of parastatals.

Hengari takes over at a time when government is imploring all its businesses to perform financially and rely less on bailouts.

Having received N$345 million from the government between 2010 and 2012, financially struggling NWR adopted a new business model last year and Hengari’s tenure will – in all likelihood – be judged on how that model will be implemented.

Dubbed the NWR Breakthrough Strategy, the plan replaces the Turnaround Strategy developed in 2006 by Aupindi, under which N$120 million was channelled into the redevelopment and renovation of existing facilities.

In terms of the new breakthrough strategy, each of the company’s camps will be treated as a distinct and autonomous business unit.

“Camp managers have been given increased authority, which is accompanied by increased responsibility and accountability for ensuring that financial outcomes are achieved,” reads the Breakthrough Strategy document drafted in July.

The NWR head office takes on a coordinating and overseeing role, rather than operational, in the hope it would reduce the head office overheads as operational functions are now decentralised to the camps.

In the document, the company admits that Aupindi’s turnaround strategy “resulted in a considerable increase in revenue” but also “increased expenditure with the same loss outcome”.

Hengari is among a new crop of female Namibians leading state-owned companies. Her popularity has surged in recent years, evidenced by her inclusion in the new-look Swapo think tank which was launched earlier this year.

Source : New Era