Troubled NCAA needs able, substantive leadership

Amyriad of challenges confronting the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) primary lack of substantive personnel in key decision making positions needs urgent redress, if the entity is going to serve the country optimally.

Making this challenge, which is at the heart of the strategic orientation of the entity more serious, is that fact the term of the current board of directors lapses on October 31, a situation that presents the line ministry (Ministry of Works and Transport) with a double barrelled problem which has complicated and partially crippled the operational capabilities of the regulator.

It is disheartening that after having been given months to fill in the position of Executive Director and after being instructed by Works and Transport Minister, John Mutorwa to fill in the position by not later than July 2020, the current board denied the NCAA the opportunity to have stable and substantive leadership, defied the minister’s directive and may depart without resolving the existing challenge.

With many allegations levelled against NCAA from a human resource point of view coupled with other challenges such as the case reported by this publication in which an unauthorised aircraft was allowed to land in and depart from Namibia, strong leadership is a key ingredient in stabilising the NCAA ship and delivery key decisions that will put the company on a positive footing.

This too is a no brainer. It is carried in the spirit of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which has made recommendation that NCAA needs to urgently address its leadership structure and put policies in place that propel a strong governance architecture.

An ICAO induced assessment in 2019 that was aimed at assisting, supporting and guiding Namibia to establish a robust and ICAO compliant safety oversight system made compelling revelations that the NCAA executive committee (Exco) which currently consists mainly of contracted, interim or acting members with only two permanent staff members represented in the committee, presented huge risk to the stability of NCAA and therefore a need to address such was a matter of urgency.

While the report in its recommendation highlighted that the board must have permanent employees in key decision making positions of the organisation it also advised, with good measure, that both the board and NCAA management must develop a corporate manual which must include the approved structure and its description.

Indeed, this manual should include policies and procedures to avoid perceived and possible conflict of interest, include recruitment policy and procedures, training policy and procedures which must include plans of a policy on key human resource instruments that have led to an unstable NCAA.

When this is done, inherent challenges such as salary discrepancies and unfair treatment of some employees would naturally be resolved by the system. This however will not exonerate NCAA of the need to have strong legal standing as well as risk and audit oversight which they currently have not made key pillars of their administrative structure.

With an ICAO audit imminent, it is imperative that the leadership question at NCAA is addressed if Namibia is to avoid the risk of having its airspace shut down.