SOEs must adhere to Governance Act: Shifeta

WINDHOEK; The Minister of Environment and Tourism has appealed to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) to adhere to the Governance Act and appoint company secretaries as a matter of urgency.

This would help them operate in accordance with the law.

The SOE Governance Act (2006) makes provision for the efficient governance of institutions and the monitoring of their performances – to make provision for the restructuring of SOEs; to establish the SOEs Governance Council and define its powers, duties and functions; and to make provision for incidental matters.

Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta made the plea at a meeting with the ministry’s SOE stakeholders on Wednesday. The meeting was held to set the pace and expectations of the newly appointed Shifeta, MET Deputy Minister Tommy Nambahu and the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR), Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino (WCCR), as well as the Zambezi Waterfront and Tourism Park.

“Every member of the Board of Directors, as well as managers must understand the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Governance Act (No.2 of 2006). You should also respect the State Finance Act, (Act 31 of 1991), then you will understand how things must work,” Shifeta said.

He indicated that if they do not employ a company secretary, they are violating the law.

Shifeta said he observed some abnormalities in the operations of some of the SOEs. SOEs are also not doing well as management undermines the powers of the Board, which the MET appoints, he said.

The minister went on to say some members of the Boards are “clueless” about the operations of their institutions and sign documents without reading and understanding its context.

BODs should also have regular annual general meetings, as some have not held any for the past three years, he said.

Shifeta further noted that SOEs do not pay over monthly contributions to the Receiver of Revenue and instead use the funds for monthly operational expenses.

“This is theft, and individuals can be arrested and face the law,” he said.

He also reprimanded the Managing Directors (MDs) and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of SOEs that make appointments to see him without the approval of the Boards, and this is in violation of the law. He advised management to have a healthy relationship with members of the Boards of Directors and to participate only in bona fide dealings at all times. He also called on MDs and CEOs to step down if their institutions are debt-ridden and cannot perform.

“I appeal to you to follow the proper procedures. My door is always open. Our relationships should be governed by the law and nothing else. We do business and we do things without fear or favour,” he added.

Matters of discussion during the meeting included performance agreements and progress reporting; five-year strategic plans/business plans; legal and administrative/corporate compliance that include financial reports and AGMs; stakeholder engagement and channels of communication; monitoring and evaluation of impact of interventions and contribution to the fourth National Development Plan (NDP); as well as key challenges facing SOEs.