WINDHOEK – The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB)’s head of human resources Benedict Nakuta this week tendered his resignation amidst a looming disciplinary action related to payment of staff salaries.
Nakuta is being hauled before a disciplinary committee for allegedly making wrong salary payments to staff, some of whom were underpaid while others were overpaid.
NTB CEO Digu //Naobeb made the revelation when responding to allegations by staff members who staged a peaceful demonstration this week. Nakuta tendered his resignation on Tuesday.
Overpayments allegedly amounted to N$250 000, while underpayments of N$150,000 were recorded.
“As a result of this grave error, the head of human resources was served with charges and was deemed to undergo the disciplinary process,” said //Naobeb.
Nakuta confirmed his resignation, but maintained it had nothing to do with the alleged error in payments.
“Yes I have resigned. But I resigned primarily because this place (NTB) has become unbearable to work for. Also, my five-year contract is ending at the end of July so my resignation actually coincides with that,” he said.
Regarding the staff demonstration and demands, which include alleged fluctuations in their salaries, //Naobeb maintained the executive management is empowered to take decisions in the interest of the organisation.
He said the parochial interests of the demonstrating staff would be considered together with the interest of the company.
One such interest, he said, is the financial sustainability of the organisation.
“It is regrettable that staff members continue to feed media wrong information, in the process damaging the very institution that keeps them employed,” //Naobeb said.
The company and employees representative union, Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), are locked in protracted negotiations over wages and salary increment.
Among the host of grievances is the claim by NTB employees that they are in the dark as to what their exact salaries are, as they tend to fluctuate because of the absence of a payroll administrator.
“Indeed this problem existed but it was rectified. We have conducted a salary benchmark study, which was implemented in 2016, and some staff even got close to 60 percent adjustments, as we adopted to pay at middle point as opposed to entry or lower quartile that we used to pay in the past,” //Naobeb revealed.
He was however adamant that the NTB, as institution, remains stable since he took over, despite claims to the contrary by aggrieved staff.
“In general NTB has been doing well under my leadership. We have to date audited financials with clean records, which is a success in a very strenuous public enterprise environment,” he said.
The workers are calling for the arraignment of //Naobeb and Mareen Posthuma, NTB’s head of marketing, for their alleged negligence in awarding tenders to board director Paul Brinkmann’s allegedly unregistered company.
The workers are also calling on //Naobeb to refrain from forcing heads of departments to charge their subordinates over paperwork that he authorised as the accounting officer.
//Naobeb, however, would have none of it.
“That is totally flawed and devoid of any truth. Issues of misconduct are being reported to the CEO. It is only logical that the CEO directs such to be dealt with by the concerned heads of departments. Disciplinary action is instituted where there are grounds established that there are material facts of wrongdoing,” //Naobeb stressed.
He further refuted claims that the parastatal is violating its recognition agreement with the unions, claiming that quarterly meetings chaired by the CEO between the NTB and the union members are held, where matters of concern are deliberated on openly.
“It must be noted that there is an existing recognition agreement between NTB and Napwu of 2009. That agreement clearly states that no industrial action shall be taken until dialogue has failed,” //Naobeb stated.