Impacting Namibia’s governance landscape

Corporate Governance expert, Vincia Cloete (VC) who was last month appointed as the executive director of the Namibia Institute of Corporate Governance (NICG) has embraced her new challenge which above all seeks to enhance sound corporate governance practices. Confidente’s Hilary Mare (HM) interviewed Cloete to gain insight on the future of NICG and the role it plays in Namibia’s developmental agenda.

(HM): Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you arrived where you are today?
(VC): I hail from a beautiful home in the small picturesque town of Tsumeb in the northern part of Namibia. From the foundational stages at Nomtsoub Primary School to secondary education at Etosha Secondary School, my tertiary educational background includes a Master of Laws in Intellectual Property Law (Cum Laude) from the Stellenbosch University; and LL B, B Juris and B Accounting degrees from the University of Namibia. I am a proud mother of a delectable eight-year-old boy.
I firmly believe that “well-behaved women seldom make history” (Laurel T. Ulrich). It is this conviction; my favourite Latin aphorism ‘carpe diem’, which means seize the day; and my ultimate sentiments penned by Marianne Williamson that impel me to achieve purpose and impact. There is so much more I would love to share concerning my journey to date, but time does not stand still and I believe we will have the opportunity to unpack that at a later stage.

(HM): How does it feel to be at the helm of NICG?
(VC): So many emotions rush through me when I consider this milestone, but the one overwhelming feeling is “a strong sense of responsibility and accountability”. Leadership is all about purpose, impact and impartation rather than self-serving ambitions and ephemeral human accolades. Purpose, impact and impartation are beyond oneself and this apprehension alone brings me to great awe and veneration. The term corporate governance in itself beckons honour, ethics, integrity and accountability – qualities which I pray I demonstrate more than I teach and/or represent.

(HM): Could you also share the role that NICG plays in the developmental agenda of Namibia?
(VC): As the custodian of corporate governance in Namibia, the NICG understands that governance is a key pillar in the NDP6 and HPP2. The NICG’s role includes advocacy of the expansion and enhancement of the governance pillar in the national goals, aligned to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) governance pillar. Promoting the APRM and appropriate NEEEF principles into the national goals as it relates to governance, would help promote investments as well as address national, social and environmental challenges.
The NICG has set six strategic pillars upon which this expanded vision and mission will be built. These pillars are formed to ensure that the NICG is continually allocating its efforts and resources in the correct areas, in order to ensure that the strategic intent of the institute is realised in the coming years. Ultimately, the success of the NICG and all its stakeholders means success for Namibia at large.

(HM): What reforms do you hope to bring to the organisation?
(VC): The NICG was established with the aim to bring together like-minded corporate governance professionals in Namibia to develop their skills, compare experiences, impart learnings and share practices, with the ultimate aim of encouraging top notch corporate governance culture in Namibia. I wish to see this reanimated even more; but more than that, I wish for the NICG to deeply impact the governance landscape of all forms of corporations or governing bodies. To achieve this, we will need to strengthen our strategic alliances, improve on our advocacy and thought leadership output, as well as cement (as opposed to merely amplify) our footprint in the areas of training and certification.

(HM): In your own view, what are the challenges facing corporate governance practices in Namibia currently?
(VC): Corporate governance is multi-faceted and I would be careless to highlight specific drawbacks as more critical than others. So, when one views the definition of corporate governance broadly as more than “the practice by which organisations are managed and controlled”, one starts to see the many cracks in governance generally. This is to say that while it is commendable to have working systems and processes in place, with the capacity to occasionally tick the compliance boxes (where they are in fact in place), it would be remiss to overlook the impact of ethical leadership (of which integrity is a cornerstone) and being held to high standards of accountability in the implementation of those systems and processes.

(HM): How can these be addressed?
(VC): We not only need systems and processes in place, or be able to superficially pass the tick box approach – we need for leaders across governing bodies to be ethical and accountable in their leadership and implementation of those systems and processes. This involves stepping away from the so-called glamor connoted to leadership and really giving oneself to leading with purpose and impact, the grandest of which is to act in the best interest of the country as a whole through accountable governing bodies.

(HM): Is there is anything else you would like to add?
(VC): The NICG is privileged to have a broad spectrum of strategic alliances – all of the members and stakeholders play an integral part in holding the NICG to its core mission of championing, modelling and acting as an agent of change in the corporate governance space in Namibia. We value each of our alliances and implore them to continue supporting the NICG in this agenda. We should continue to hold hands in realising our national goals, appreciating that governance is a key enabler towards achieving these goals.