Alweendo roasted over Namdia board fees


WINDHOEK, Minister of Mines and Energy Tom Alweendo, expressed concern over the current sitting fees paid to the Namib Desert Diamonds (Pty) Ltd (Namdia) board members.

He said the fees are too excessive in relation to what is paid to other State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) board members.

He made this revelation when he responded to Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Jennifer Van den Heever last week in the National Assembly regarding the sitting board fees paid to Namdia members.

She wanted the Mines Minister to explain why Namdia's board members each get paid over N$90 000 per meeting in comparison to N$35 000 of what the Namibia Diamond Trading Company (NDTC) and other parastatals are getting.

Even though, Alweendo disputed the figures, he said board fees at Namdia which is on a quarterly sitting fee is N$50 000 and N$45 000 for the chairperson and directors.

In addition to the quarterly fees, he said there is a monthly retainer of N$35 000.

I am not so sure where the honourable member got her information. It is not true that Namdia board members get N$90 000 per meeting. It is also not true that NDTV board members get N$35 000 per meeting. As for the NDTC, it is important to note that NDTC is not an SOE because it is owned 50:50 by the government and De Beers, he clarified.

He however agreed and raised concern that such fees are exorbitant.

It is important for me to note that the current fees to the Namdia board members are too excessive in relation to what is paid to other SOE board members. Together with the Ministry of Public Enterprises, we are busy to regularise this anomaly. With regard to the NDTC board fees, the sitting is N$7 900 for all directors' and there is also a quarterly fee of N$13 800 for the chairperson and N$9 600 for the other directors, he noted.

Van den Heever further wanted clarity why Namdia is not registered as an SOE under the Ministry of Public Enterprises in terms of schedule 1 of the Public Enterprise Governance Act.

Alweendo revealed that they are in the process of updating schedule 1 of the Public Enterprises Governance Act of 2006, where Namdia will be listed as an SOE.

The State-owned Enterprises Governance Act, 2006, currently indicates that there are 52 SOEs listed under schedule 1.

Alweendo responded there is a bit of confusion where some people will argue that Namdia is not an SOE but rather a state-owned company- and this distinction is being made ostensibly because Namdia is not listed under schedule 1 of the Public Enterprises Governance Act.

He admitted it is the case that Namdia is not currently listed under schedule 1.

Alweendo said an SOE is defined in the Act as any company where the government has the majority shareholding-and not because it is listed in schedule 1, hence Namdia is by definition an SOE.

He explained that it is not listed because the last time schedule 1 was updated, Namdia was not in existence.

Van den Heever wanted the minister to explain under which Act Namdia was established.

Alweendo said Namdia is not established under an Act under the companies Act.

It is not true that all SOEs are established by an Act of parliament. For example, NamPower is established under the companies Act and is MTC. It might be argued that it is desirable that all SOEs be established by an Act of parliament but currently it is mandatory, he explained.

Moreover, she asked why the salary of Namdia CEO is undisclosed to the public.

I am not aware of a requirement that all salaries of CEOs of SOEs be disclosed publicly. What is publicly disclosed is the gazetted guidelines on remuneration at SOEs, indicating the range within which CEOs and senior management will be paid. However, what is gazetted is not the actual remuneration being paid to CEOs of SOEs, Alweendo responded.

As proponent of transparency, he agreed that in future, there is a need to look into the issue of making remuneration of senior management at SOEs public.

Namdia is a cutting-edge diamond marketing and sales company, perfectly positioned to create a sustainable route to market a portion of Namibia's unique and highly sought-after diamonds.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia