Namibia: Expelled Commissioners Jab At Tjongarero

Five of the eight former members of the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) board of commissioners, who were recently expelled from their roles by sports minister Agnes Tjongarero, are demanding an unreserved apology from the minister, and that she must atone for ‘damaging’ their reputations.

The five aggrieved commissioners are Joel Matheus, Linda Dumba-Chicalu, Karen Mubonenwa, Thomas Mbeeli and Niklaus Nghumono, who on Tuesday wrote to Tjongarero through their lawyers Tjombe Elago Incorporated, arguing their dismissal was a huge misstep by the minister and that it was also unlawful.

The expelled NSC board members comprised Joel Matheus (chairperson), Erica Beukes, Tomas Mbeeli, Alna Similo, Linda Chicalu, Marius Johannes, Karen Mubonenwa and Nicklaus Nghumono.

Their dismissal was triggered by their refusal to adhere to the minister’s directive to advertise the NSC chief administrator position once the incumbent Freddy Mwiya’s contract ends.

The board had recommended to the minister that Mwiya gets reappointed for another five years, but Tjongarero objected that recommendation and advised that the position should rather be advertised for other qualifying Namibians to also apply.

But Tjongarero’s advise fell on deaf ears, as the board stood by its decision not to advertise the position, insisting that the minister should go with their recommendation to reappoint Mwiya.

The deadlock led to the immediate dismissal of the entire board by Tjongarero, who cited insubordination and deliberately ignoring directives from the appointing authority.

On his part, Mwiya has since taken the minister to court and now awaits on the court outcome to see whether or not his contact will be extended for another five years.

In Tuesday’s letter, the five aggrieved commissioners argued that Tjongarero had no powers to object their recommendation to reappoint Mwiya for another five years, and that the minister’s decision to expel them as unlawful and untenable.

“The Minister’s power to give directives in terms of section 14(1) of the Namibia Sports Act are limited to directives of a general character. The purported directive not to renew the contract of employment of the chief administrator is not a directive of general character, but indeed of specific character, dealing specifically with the contract of employment of the current chief administrator, and not any other employee nor generally to any chief administrator in office in future. Therefore, the minister cannot rely on the powers under section 14(1) of the Namibia Sports Act,” argued the five expelled commissioners through their lawyers.

They continued: “It is, therefore, mandatory for the minister to act on the recommendation of the NSC insofar, as it concerns the appointment of the chief administrator, and the commission was perfectly entitled, in law and on the facts, to refuse the directive of the minister that contract of employment not be renewed and that the position be advertised”.

“In addition to that, the Namibia Sports Act created the NSC as a statutory entity. The NSC ought to perform its functions without interference as dictated by good corporate governance principles. The minister’s persistent interferences are not only a violation of the principles of good corporate governance, but contrary to the clear terms of the Namibia Sports Act and the very purpose for the establishment of the NS. Otherwise, the functions of the NSC would have fallen within the ministry, and that its functionaries be dealt with as employees directly under the control of the ministry had it been intended that the minister would compromise the independence of the commissioners of the NSC.”

They also demand that Tjongarero issues an unreserved public apology to them for damaging their reputations through their purported illegal dismissal, and that the apology should be issued before end of business yesterday.

“In light of the above, our clients demand that you publicly retract the reasons for the removal of clients as commissioners of the NSC and tender a written unreserved apology not later than the close of business on Wednesday, 1 June 2022 (yesterday).”

Multiple attempts to obtain comment from the minister proved futile as her phone went unanswered.


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