RA Quietly Reinstates Manager

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By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK Rosa Nakale, who featured prominently in the 2003/4 Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Roads Authority (RA), has quietly returned to her old job at the Roads Authority after being reinstated by the District Labour Court. Nakale was summarily dismissed from her position as General Manager: Administration and Corporate Affairs by the board of directors at the parastatal on December 14, 2004. The sacking was highly unusual in that she was not given any reasons for being fired, and according to her the reasons have still not been explained. She returned to her post on June 1 after the District Labour Court ordered her immediate re-instatement. The court also compelled the Roads Authority to pay her N$503 261 in outstanding salary for the 12-13 months she remained without employment. The Roads Authority board of directors at the time seemed to have taken the decision to clear out the entire top management of the parastatal. Only a week before Nakale was sacked Chief Executive Officer Justin Runji, the two Divisional Engineers Lawrence Kiggundu and Peter Thiemann were also forced to vacate their posts. The cases of the three other sacked officials are still believed to be pending before the courts. New appointees have filled the positions of these three officials, with Nakale’s position being the only one that remained vacant throughout. The chairman of the Roads Authority board Sisa Namandje did not inform her personally of her dismissal, but instead the parastatal’s legal officer delivered a letter at her house. A relaxed and confident looking Nakale in a recent interview said she was happy the Labour Court vindicated her and that she was glad to be back in her job. From the beginning, she was always confident that she would win her case as long as the law was able to take its course without any outside political influence. Nakale says her dismissal at the end of 2004 did not come as a complete surprise to her because of the highly charged atmosphere at the Roads Authority at the time. The environment at the parastatal during that period was very politicised and tense, with constant quarrels among staff members. “What shocked me was that Namibia could have reached the stage where someone with the necessary political muscle could simply wake up one day and on a whim decide that so-and-so is fired,” she sadly remarked. She nevertheless took the news of her dismissal quite calmly, knowing that even without formal employment she had the ability and necessary drive to survive as a businesswoman. The most difficult part was explaining to friends and family why she was fired. The Roads Authority gave no reasons, which meant she had no explanation as well. This meant people were free to use their own imaginations, with some left believing she stole money or did something equally terrible. Nakale said her re-integration at the Roads Authority has gone very smoothly as the corporation is now a completely different place, with mostly new faces and a much happier working environment. The Roads Authority basically argued that the employment contract they gave Nakale did not require them to give reasons for dismissing her, and that therefore the sacking was not contrary to any laws in Namibia. The corporation apparently felt they had done all that was required of them by giving Nakale payment in lieu of notice. The District Labour Court rejected these arguments out of hand. The court categorically stated the Roads Authority board of directors could not hold ad hoc meetings for the sole purpose of getting rid of an employee who according to them was conveniently vulnerable to certain clauses in an employment contract. The court ruled the Roads Authority invoked a clause in Nakale’s employment contract in bad faith. The action of the authority was not only contrary to the tenor and spirit of the preamble to the Labour Act of 1992, but was also in conflict with sections 45 and 46 of the same act. The District Labour Court ruled that as a result the termination was unfair because it lacked a valid and fair reason for dismissing Nakale.

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