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NamPower board chairperson threatens to quit over political interference

Economist Daniel Motinga has threatened to resign as NamPower board chairperson due to continued political interference in the running of the national electricity company.

In May, NamPower announced that it would cut electricity to 19 municipalities and councils that owed the power utility around N$1,5 billion. The power company initially ignored calls to halt the plan, but the state-owned enterprise eventually succumbed to what commentators characterised as political interference by the Cabinet.

It appears NamPower directors were divided about the decision to cave into political pressure from finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi and the Cabinet.

Three people briefed about this matter said Motinga is said to have told colleagues at NamPower about his plan to resign.

Sources said Motinga reportedly submitted his resignation on Monday.

It is unclear if the resignation was accepted.

Efforts to get comment from Motinga have been unsuccessful since last week.

Finance ministry spokesperson Wilson Shikoto denied that Motinga resigned from the utility’s board.

“Motinga did not resign, he will continue to serve his term as the chairperson of the board,” he said via text yesterday.

People familiar with the matter said Shiimi summoned the NamPower board this week.

One of the items on the agenda reportedly, was NamPower’s new projects and tenders.

Motinga is said to have been pushing for NamPower’s financial stability. His support of the move to suspend electricity supply to regional authorities, local authorities and regional electricity distributors (REDs), saw him cross swords with some politicians and fellow directors who opposed the move.

People briefed about the situation said some board meetings dealing with the power suspension issue were heated.

Motinga was appointed as board chairman in 2017. His second term on the utility’s board was set to end in September.
Some of his board colleagues are said to have advised him to stay on until September when their terms end, instead of throwing in the towel now.

Last month, Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Ephraim Nekongo blasted NamPower bosses for “disobeying a Cabinet directive” and called for the resignation of managing director Simson Haulofu.

“The board at NamPower must listen to the leadership … Whoever is at NamPower, the minister must be able to discipline these people,” he said.

“He [Haulofu] is there appointed by the party. If Simson needs to go, he must go. He cannot be directed and do other things. That’s uncalled for,” he said.

NamPower directors believe the government has not supported them, especially at the time when the parastatal is in the red.

The Namibian reported earlier this year that NamPower was unable to pay interest on its loans last year and risks the possibility of lenders demanding an immediate repayment of N$517 million. Its operations were running at a loss of N$2,3 billion, meaning the N$6,5 billion the utility collected from selling electricity was not enough to cover its expenses.

NamPower spokesperson Tangeni Kambangula did not respond to questions sent to her.