Telecom Restructuring in Shambles in Namibia

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The Telecom Namibia branch of the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu) has demanded that the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Joel Kaapanda, intervene in the restructuring of Telecom.

The union further called for an immediate and full-scale forensic investigation into the entire affairs of Telecom, and to take "concise and immediate" actions against the board of directors and top management, to allow an unhindered investigation into Telecom's affairs. The workers claimed that there is no approved structure bearing the signature of the Telecom board chairperson for the company's proposed re-alignment.

"It can't be business as usual anymore as the lid has been lifted on the state of affairs in Telecom Namibia publicly and that displays serious inefficiencies in the management of this company," said the chairperson of the Napwu branch, Jacob Ramoswaane.

He said while it is true that the Telecom executive informed the union of the company's re-alignment plans last year, a proposed structure was tabled for discussion without changes to the new level 1, and only having the bargaining unit levels and the proposed changes on these levels. Napwu then refused to entertain any discussion on the structure and requested that the Telecom management finalise the level 1, after which the union would discuss the lower levels.

Ramoswaane said the union is in possession of only a draft structure which is without the signature of the board chairperson.

He said the union had made two requests to Managing Director Frans Ndoroma - on April 11 and May 20 - to provide it with a copy of the approved structure, and was only presented with an unsigned copy.

It also requested Telecom to make available the list of all applicants of level 1 and level 2 positions to ascertain whether "deserving" employees were "intentionally" excluded from being afforded a chance to be interviewed. Ramoswaane said a request was made for the list, but that the company has not released the names. He said he hand-delivered a request to the board chairperson to intervene and halt the appointing process, but that the chairperson failed to do so.

Ramoswaane described Ndoroma's statement that only a few disgruntled workers who did not make the shortlist for interviews are against the restructuring process as a "very comic piece of a story".

"Fact is that it seems that the MD and his team didn't do their homework properly," said Ramoswaane. Ramoswaane said before Ndoroma and his team embarked upon the "rolls-royce exercise", they should have considered the consequences thereof.

He said the company had sought legal advice, for which it paid "a good number of Namibia dollars", on the possible legal implications of the restructuring process, and should thus know the possibility that some "incumbent employees" did not get appointed and would thus sue the company.

The union said Telecom should only have advertised new positions and confined incumbents in their old positions, instead of embarking on a N$240 000 advertising exercise that called for applications to already filled positions.

It claimed that both Chief of Operations Heinrich Bader and Chief of Finance Robert Offner do not have the required qualifications for the positions in which they were appointed.

Ramoswaane said the appointing authorities at Telecom have breached an agreement reached between Napwu and the board of directors that the position of chiefs be subjected to a five-year contract. The union said the Telecom board of directors should explain why the "so-called" approved structures are changed after interviews were conducted. "This is tantamount to corruption, favouritism, and nepotism," the union charged.