Shigwedha hangs onto NamWater job by fingernails over N$1,300

Windhoek-Johannes Shigwedha, the NamWater senior manager for corporate communications, is fighting tooth and nail against a fraud conviction meted out against him during an internal disciplinary hearing after he allegedly approved payment of about N$1,300 to a service provider.

New Era understands that Shigwedha signed off payment for adverts that the national water utility had placed in a newspaper � and has told the hearing that what happened was an administrative error rather than fraud.

He further told the hearing that the excessive N$1,300 amount was contained in the original invoice submitted by the said newspaper and he did not alter the claim to make extra income for himself.

The fact that payment of the excessive amount was not effected, as the 'error' was detected in advance, meant there was no loss on the part of the company hence the disproportionate sentence, Shigwedha argues in papers submitted to the labour commissioner's office.

A hearing is set for Wednesday next week � September 27 � during which Shigwedha and his representatives would ask the commissioner to uphold the appeal instead of endorsing the initial dismissal ruling.

Shigwedha was initially charged in February 2016 but after his appeal six people were appointed as chairperson of the appeal hearing. However, the appeal has not taken place under any of the six chairpersons. This, Shigwedha argues, pointed to there being no case against him � except for, at best, negligence.

He is challenging the company to prove fraud against him, especially in light of what he says was a mistake that originated from the service provider's claim, which he simply failed to detect.

Officials close to the matter say Shigwedha is caught up in the camp fights within NamWater, pitting long-serving CEO Dr Vaino Shivute against some members of the board.

Shigwedha, when approached for comment yesterday, was reluctant to comment before the labour commissioner has ruled on his appeal, but said: There has been persecution against my person, and that's why I have sought recourse with a more neutral body, which is the Office of the Labour Commissioner.

Welbert Ockhuisen, the NamWater general manager for operational services who brought the original charges against Shigwedha, was not available for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia