In an unusual turn of events, embattled chief executive officer (CEO) of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) Sybrand de Beer has been retained as the NRU’s new commercial agent, just a few hours after tendering his resignation as CEO.
De Beer, who took over from Christo Alexander in 2012, has been at the centre of a number of allegations, ranging from maladministration, financial irregularities, misconduct, abuse of power and flagrant disregard for standing rules.
Quizzed as to how a company owned by someone with such serious allegations leveled against him can be appointed to render services to the rugby union, NRU president Bradley Basson strongly defended the appointment, paddling on the adage that one is not guilty until proven guilty by a competent court of law.
Keen observers noted that it’s not yet clear whether De Beer jumped ship to avoid charges and possible prosecution, or whether it is merely a tactical move by the NRU to shield him from further scrutiny, or indeed whether De Beer hopes to earn more in his capacity as commercial agent.
Basson tried to downplay De Beer’s highly questionable appointment, saying the appointment would not affect the NRU financially, as it is just a commission-based agreement, despite several local rugby pundits deeming the appointment questionable, given that De Beer still has a dark cloud hovering over him.
Basson was also coy as to why such an important vacancy was not advertised to allow other potential candidates to apply. “The services of a commercial agent are not only exclusive to De Beer, but open to all interested parties, and the board reserves the right to include any other person that will be able to solicit sponsorships for the union,” Basson explained.
He further said: “He (De Beer) has not been charged for any misconduct whatsoever. These are just allegations and the issue has been forwarded to the sports presiding authority, the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) to scrutinise the allegations. Up to now, the NSC has not pronounced itself on the matter and we are also anxiously waiting for the final outcome.”
Approached for comment yesterday, De Beer confirmed his resignation and maintained that it had nothing to do with the pending investigation, but said he felt he could serve the NRU better in his personal capacity as a commercial agent.
“I’m no more under the employment of the NRU, but will still be involved in my personal capacity as a commercial agent. My role is to solicit funds for the NRU and making sure that I secure them long-term partners as far as sponsorship is concerned. I think the CEO position will be advertised in due course for potential applicants to apply, but I’ve already vacated that post,” de Beer said.
Local rugby analyst Robbie Thompson received the news with mixed feelings and was quick to question the rationale behind appointing De Beer’s company as commercial agents of the NRU.
“I also partly heard about it, but I don’t have much details about the whole appointment and how it will function. What worries me a bit is the fact that the NRU has chosen to consider the services of someone who is still under investigation.
“I feel that they should have at least waited a bit until he’s cleared of all the allegations and then sit around the table and strategise as to how they can effectively use his services. Why the rush in appointing him?” Thompson asked.