Wanted – Qualified Board Members

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By Max Hamata WINDHOEK The Namibia Economic Society (NES) has called for the advertising of boards of directors’ positions in order to lure qualified and experienced candidates to enhance effective restructuring of parastatals. The NES’s call has been prompted by concerns over some board members who served on more than 10 parastatals, raising questions on the effectiveness of these boards, or “whether they were just there for the money”. The society’s president Mihe Gaomab II said this would conform more to the “transparent process of selecting the appropriately qualified and experienced members to steer the process of parastatals restructuring forward in Namibia. This type of situation can allow boards of directors to add more value to the firm through adhering to corporate governance principles and its implementation, and this can add prominence to restructuring poorly performing parastatals that can contribute to overall enterprise and overall growth of the economy.” Gaomab, also a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, made the remarks in the wake of concerns that some parastatals have been politicised and degenerated into corrupt and bankrupt institutions. He was speaking at the just-ended first national conference on corporate governance and anti-corruption in Windhoek this week. “We are realizing that the culture of corruption or the pursuit of easy money is widespread in Namibia, which if left unattended can have severe social welfare cost to Namibia translating into abject economic development, increased unemployment and increased poverty. Hence it is increasingly becoming important that parastatals need to cement corporate governance initiatives in terms of how they handle operations and management in a responsible, accountable and ethical manner.” He noted that experience has shown that restructuring parastatals efficiently and effectively requires a strong presence of qualified boards of directors who know just how to crucially play in terms of restructuring and disciplining parastatals. He added: “We should be mindful of the fact that the interest in cultivating good corporate governance in Namibia has its origins less in the context of private sector financial systems but has more in the need to improve the performance of some of our ailing state enterprises with the need to restructure them, as evidenced in the recent State Owned Enterprises (SOE) bill.” He said when good governance takes root in Namibia the country can improve on the fundamentals of growing this economy. “As responsible and accountable citizens of Namibia, we can actually allow more room for parastatals to think exactly in terms of why they are there in the first place, being the responsible corporate citizens who also do not only care about their performance but also extend their social responsibility with respect to the overall business ethics, entrepreneurship culture and the protection of the environment,” he added. He said Namibians are still not taken to task stringently for any misdeed committed, thus compromising their accountability and responsibility. “The fairness and ethical pursuit of how we manage our corporations and SMEs inclusive still has a lot to be desired. There is still a veil of cover of how we conduct businesses and manage our institutions in this country in terms of transparency,” he added.