Compromised board members derailing progress

THE reality that some of our parastatal boards are marred with conflicted, compromised, corrupt and dishonest members points to a monumental problem that is derailing progress at these public enterprises.

In truth, some of the members appointed do not disclose past failures or hidden interests which make them catalysts of failure as they fail to put the interests of the entity ahead of theirs.

Essentially, individuals who have been embroiled in corruption in the past must not be allowed to serve on any public board while adequate vetting systems also urgently need to be put in place to curtail miscreants masquerading as governance vanguards in public enterprises.

As a publication, we have relentlessly shone the light on unfit board members, mostly chairpersons, who have adversely affected the progress of parastatals that have survived on account of government bailouts at the expense of the taxpayer.

We are reminded of the compromising actions of the RCC board which signed an unsanctioned N$600 million deal with the Chinese, the inefficiencies in the previous dislodged NSFAF board, the accusations levelled against the previous NAC board and allegations of a former NIP board member who was found to have on various occasions intentionally misled the courts under oath.

Apart from this, we continue to see compromised board members who are constantly at loggerheads with executives at a parastatal in order to push their ulterior motives or external agendas. This in essence denies executives an opportunity to focus on their core responsibilities because they have to constantly fight fires that would have been started by unscrupulous board members.

We all acknowledge that public enterprises are key vehicles for national economic development and for this reason alone, it is time to ensure that the right people are appointed on public boards. This too, has to be done without continuing to demean our public enterprises to be dumping grounds for semi-retired civil servants or politicians who have found the going tough in their chosen fields.

It is high time people were appointed on these boards to deliver for the benefit of the country and not to just keep them busy while they clearly try to serve their own interests.

We acknowledge the work of Public Enterprise Minister, Leon Jooste who is attempting to revolutionarise the selection criteria for these societal members, however policies must be added to both block the monopolistic nature of individuals who serve on many boards and also those not chosen on merit but political reasons.

Board members must always be reminded of their fiduciary duty to at all times, act in the best interests of the organisation which they represent. This position should be the standing norm particularly with the new boards that are being installed in this time.

It is time to develop boards that prime competency over petty politics, boards that will have the capacity to influence change in public enterprises and boards that will complement the executive management of our parastatals.