When Professor Joseph Diescho left his high profile job at the University of South Africa to lead Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (NIPAM), never in his wildest dreams did he think he would be axed from the institution in such humiliating fashion.
NIPAM on Tuesday dismissed Diescho for alleged insubordination, material breach of the employment contract, competition with the employer and non-compliance with resolutions of the NIPAM governance council.
Diescho’s contract was terminated by the 10-member NIPAM Governance Council following a lengthy and heated meeting on Tuesday night.
Ironically, while Diescho was delivering his address on Challenges in Understanding Corruption at the Anti-Corruption Commission’s commemoration of International Anti-Corruption Day held at NIPAM on Wednesday morning, council chairperson George Simataa was on the other side of the building informing staff members of Diescho’s dismissal. Simataa at the same meeting also introduced Edwin Tjiramba, the staff member who will replace Diescho in the interim for a period of six months, pending the recruitment and appointment of a substantive executive director. Tjiramba is the communications and marketing director at the University of Namibia (Unam).
NIPAM sources have alleged that Diescho’s sacking was just a matter of time. “If the Council decided to part ways with Diescho on Tuesday night, then logically it is impossible that by Wednesday morning they would have a replacement for him. It would make sense if the acting director came from within NIPAM, but the fact that he is from Unam means that this move was already in the pipeline,” said the source.
According to Simataa: “The employment relationship which existed between NIPAM and Prof Joseph Diescho has been terminated with effect from 8 December 2015. This termination was concluded by mutual consent and the parties separated cordially. Prof Joseph Diescho was employed by written contract as the executive director for NIPAM from 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2018.”
Regarding claims that NIPAM took disciplinary measures against Diescho in the past for his conduct and that he was on a final warning, said Simataa: “That is not true. We gave you the reasons why we parted ways and we stick to that.”
Simataa alleged that Diescho also provided consultancy services and held workshops with several parastatals in his private capacity, such as Namport, Telecom Namibia and the SME Bank, and provided services that NIPAM can offer.
Hence, one of the reasons for his dismissal is that he competed with his employer and in the process deprived NIPAM of income.
When asked why Diescho was expected to pay for staying in a NIPAM house while his predecessors were allowed to stay there for free, Simataa said: “I do not know what the contract provisions were for his predecessors when it comes to accommodation, but I know that Diescho’s contract obliged NIPAM to find him accommodation for the first six months.”
“It is unfair for NIPAM to accommodate him while he is being paid a housing allowance,” Simataa said. When Diescho started in 2013 there was no official NIPAM residence, hence the institution accommodated him at Safari Hotel for three months at a cost of N$140 443.89.
At the press conference on Wednesday, NIPAM confirmed parting ways with Prof Joseph Diescho, whom it agreed to pay N$3.6 million as a severance package.
According to Simataa, Diescho’s contract stipulates that should both parties agree to terminate it, NIPAM would be required to pay Diescho two years’ worth of his annual salary of N$1.8 million.
Simataa, flanked by fellow council members Jerry Muadinohamba and Samuel Nuuyoma, said there is no validity in the allegations that Diescho has been dismissed for his contribution to the weekly column ‘Diescho’s Dictum’, or for his public lectures.
Questions have been asked as to why NIPAM has to pay Diescho a severance package if they are confident that the reasons for which they dismissed him are valid. In response Simataa yesterday told New Era that Diescho’s contract with NIPAM stipulates that such a payment must be made: “We are just following what the contract says.”