REMARKS BY TOM K ALWEENDO, MINISTER OF MINES AND ENERGY AT THE OCASSION OF THE OFFICIAL INAGURATION OF THE NAMIB DESERT DIAMOND – NAMDIA – BUILDING
FRIDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2018
“Honorable Ministers present here today,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corpse
Heads of Government Agencies and Organizations
Political office bearers
Captains of Industry,
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
Esteemed invited guests
Ladies and gentlemen,
We are here this morning to witness the official opening of Namdia’s Head Quarters, Eumbo. I wish to congratulate Namdia on this achievement. It is hope that this
achievement, having your own premises, will provide an enabling physical working environment that will promote and enhance your effectiveness and efficiency. I have not doubt in my mind that Namdia has the real potential to become one of the flagship State-owned company.
Namdia is one of the recently established State-owned Enterprises, only in existence for just over two years. During its short existence, the company has demonstrated a compelling value proposition – it has proven its relevance. During the 2017/18 financial year, Namdia managed to pay dividend to its shareholder in the amount of N$50 million. This achievement is rather notable given that not many SOEs are in a position to pay dividends to the shareholder. I urge the Board, Management and the employees of Namdia to continue to build on its recent successes.
It is also true that during its existence, the company has been beset by negative media coverage – some perhaps justified while others unjustifiably so. This has to some extent created a negative perception of the company. At the center of the negative media coverage was the alleged breakdown of an effective corporate governance structure in the company. I would therefore like to say a few words about the importance of an effective corporate governance system in general in any institution.
There is no doubt that the Board of directors is fully responsible for the oversight role of the company. In other words it is the board that is responsible for the performance of any company. In fulfilling its responsibility, the Board needs to put in place measures to monitor and control management in order to strengthen the governance in the company.
However, there appears to be a crisis of confidence when it comes to governance in some of our SOEs. More often than not one reads about some malfeasance in some of our SOEs. The more these happens the more we run the risk of the public losing confidence in the integrity of our SOEs. It is therefore incumbent upon our Boards and Management of SOEs to do everything in their power to demonstrate a strong commitment to the enforcement of clear and firm standards of corporate governance.
At the minimum, such standard of corporate governance must require the Board of directors and Management to execute their responsibilities in the best interest of the shareholder and to act with both competence and integrity. It is therefore important that, going forward, the shareholder ensures that only people who are knowledgeable about the nature of the business of a particular company and those with probity are considered for appointment as directors on the Board of SOEs.
Given the important and significant roles played by the SOEs in the economy, it is not an exaggeration to say that good corporate governance in our SOEs is a critical factor in our socio-economic development. It is therefore incumbent on all of us to ensure that we continue to improve the effectiveness with which we manage State companies.
In the end it is the ethical behavior and sound business practices that will matter most in the promotion of good corporate governance. If we do that, we would have heeded the call of our President, Dr. Hage G Geingob, who on numerous occasions has called upon all those in leadership positions to demonstrate transparency and accountability in all what we do in order to create trust with the public. I need to indicate here that over the last couple of months we have had meaningful engagement with the Board and Management of Namdia in addressing some of the identified gaps in the corporate governance structure of the company. I am happy and satisfied that we were able to agree on certain areas of the company where governance needed to be strengthened. I can therefore, with certainty, say that Namdia is on its way to become the State Company that all we can be proud of. For this I want to thank both the Board and Management for embracing the shareholder’s interest.
As we all know, Namdia is in the business of trading in rough diamonds. That makes Namdia an important participant in the mining sector of the economy. Mining continues to play a very important role in our economic development. In 2017 the mining sector contributed 12.8% to our GDP and the sector employed over 16 000 employees. This is a clear indication that the mining sector has a real potential to become a meaningful catalyst for our socio-economic development.
Going forward, there is a need for all the stakeholders – the Government, the mining companies and the general public – to start a meaningful dialogue in discovering innovative ways of placing the mining sector at the center of our socio-economic development agenda. This is important given the finite nature of mining activities. It is our plan to start with such engagements early next year and it is our hope that we will have active participation of all the stakeholders.
Let me conclude my remarks by once again congratulating Namdia for its recent successes. As shareholder representative be assured that we will be with you on your journey of becoming the premier State-owned company you are destined to become. Together and acting in the Namibian Harambee fashion, we certainly will make it happen.
It is now my distinct honor to declare Eumbo officially open for business.
I thank you.”