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O&L not ready for black management

by Tileni Mongudhi

THE Ohlthaver and List Group of Companies stands accused of discriminating against black Namibians by deliberately overlooking them for top management positions within the group.

This is despite the O&L group being named the best company to work for in Southern Africa in 2012 and 2013. The group is one of the largest private sector employers in the country. Its biggest subsidiaries are Model Pick 'n Pay, Hangana Seafood and Namibia Breweries.

A handful of O&L employees raised concerns, stating that the company was using loopholes in the Affirmative Action Act to avoid employing blacks in key positions.

Sources said the O&L group has about 14 subsidiaries known as operating companies and none of the 14 entities has a black managing director or financial director.

Interestingly, the sources further said, it appears that only the function of head of human resources at the operating companies and at group level is reserved for black managers and that all human resource chiefs under the group are black.

The Namibian has seen the group's Affirmative Action report of 2014, which states that the O&L group was aiming to appoint a racially disadvantaged woman at executive director level but that no such appointment was made. According to the report, the company claims that it had no vacancies at that level.

The report further stated that the group intended to appoint two black men and one black woman at senior management level, but by last year only one black man was appointed since there were otherwise no vacancies at that level.

Sources at the group complained, stating that towards the end of last year, three managing director vacancies were available but that these were all filled by whites. The three are the MD of the O&L Centre for Excellence, the MD of Model Pick 'n Pay and the MD of Namibia Dairies.

The group's workforce profile indicates that the group has only one black Namibian man out of four at the executive director level, while at senior management level there is only one black Namibian man out of 12. There are no black Namibian women out of five.

The concentration of black Namibians in the group only starts at middle management level where it employs seven black Namibian men out of 12 and nine black Namibian women out of 21.

Sources at the company pointed out that the group leadership team, which is responsible for running the whole group of companies consists of six members and only two are black, although one is not considered an executive director, but the group's website states that it has two black executive directors.

The two are chief corporate relations officer Gideon Shilongo and O&L Group Human Capital Director Berthold Mukuahima.

Below the group's leadership team is the group executive, which consists of the group's marketing director and nine managing directors of the operating companies. The only blacks in this structure of the group's management are Mukuahima and Shilongo.

Oddly, O&L group's executive chairman, Sven Thieme, is highly regarded by government and was last year appointed as a Commissioner for the National Planning Commission, a government agency responsible for the country's development.

Thieme is also the chairman of the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation and Windhoek Country Club Resort and Casino. Previously, he served as chairman of the Development Bank of Namibia. Ruling Swapo Party deputy secretary general Laura McLeod-Katjirua also serves on the board of the O&L group.

Employment Equity Commissioner Vilbard Usiku said the O&L group's AA report was approved in November last year and that approving it does not mean everything is in order.

Usiku also confirmed that the company had a skewed workforce profile which favoured whites for top management level.

The Namibian could not obtain comment from the O&L group or from Thieme at the time of going to print, despite sending an email and various text messages. Calls went unanswered by the relevant authorities.

Comments 1 - 10 of 12

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  • Hi Thomas Shilongo - I whole-heartedly support your view - especially that appointments should be based on qualification, competence and suitability for the post only and NOT on colour, gender, religion or descent. When the best candidates fill all senior posts in Namibia, we can be assured of prosperity in our country which furthermore guarantees a good living for all Namibians who are prepared to work hard and is dedicated. My experience with white people is that they are loyal to our country and do not have covered and secret agendas - they all mean it well for Namibia. Make use of their expertise. - Freedom Fighter | 2015-01-10 18:03:00 [12195]
  • Amen, Mr Shilongo - I'm sure you are aware that a prime tactic in the Game is "Divide and Conquer" - zapata | 2015-01-10 14:51:00 [12194]
  • This article is inciting racism. The truth is Ohlthaver and List is 49% owned by EPIA, a local broad based empowerment group. Just google Ohlthaver and List ownership, please find the link below to a media release on the O&L shareholding structure:

    Secondly Namibia Breweries has had a black Managing Director in the past. The current Finance Director is a coloured man, classified as previously disadvantaged in Namibia. Many of the Senior Managers are black at Namibia Breweries in many departments including Finance, Marketing, HR, Sales, Engineering and Logistics.

    The Bible teaches us to not discriminate against our fellow man if they are wealthy and successful purely because they are white. : Romans 10:12 English Standard Version (ESV) 12 'For there is no distinction between * and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.' Namibia is a free country we have many wealthy black millionaires. Mr. Frans Indongo has appointed a White Afrikaner CEO for his group because he appoints based on competence not based on skin colour. Its time that Newspaper editors ensure articles that incite racism and tribalism are not published. - Thomas Shilongo | 2015-01-10 14:15:00 [12196]
  • @Richard - you holding up the scumbag megalomaniac Mugabe as a righteous African is misguided - while it is amusing to watch him defy the British Imperialists, he has done nothing for ordinary Zimbabweans - he is responsible for the deaths and displacement of many people and, of the farms appropriated from the whites, the prime land has been gifted to his cronies while the scraps were thrown to the masses - you bluster on about the whites, chinese and indians and not supporting a system which doesn't support communities but, please, describe how black elites are supporting communities in Namibia - it appears that, like white and other shades of elites, the newly advantaged blacks are scrambling to enrich themselves and their buddies only - you Richard, need to rip your head out of your angry racist *, take a deep breath and realise that ORDINARY Namibians, no matter their tribe or skin colour, are all struggling to survive in a false paradigm in which we are puppets - to partially quote the French philosopher Jean-Jaques Rousseau "... the fruits of the earth belong to us all and the earth to nobody" ... - zapata | 2015-01-10 12:51:00 [12201]
  • First of all, black people shouldn't be working for white people. It is that simple. You do not work for nor support a system which doesn't support your communities. That is absolutely FOOLISH.

    Secondly, some of you idiots such as you "Freedom Fighter" and you "Nyambe Sankwasa" do not understand that racism is an ECONOMIC institution. Color is only a small part of it. That is why these savages split up the country in bantustans, offering SUB-PAR education to most of the citizens here. Racism is an INSTITUTIONALIZED system, designed to ECONOMICALLY OPPRESS another group, if you can't provide for your family, you're subject to the mercy of others. If you don't have YOUR OWN AFRICAN OWNED BUSINESSES, you are dependent on WHITES/CHINESE/INDIANS to put food on your table. Why would you want that? Land is also IMPERATIVE. Why should you buy back land that originally BELONGED TO YOU? You can't do ANYTHING if you don't own LAND. Which is why RIGHTEOUS AFRICANS such as Tate Mugabe are doing what they can to prevent whites & other foreigners to control land that BELONGS to AFRICAN PEOPLE. Without land, you can't set up your businesses, without land you can't grow crops, without land you can't graze your animals. WE ARE ENTITLED to a LOT of money, those people who believe that Africans should just forgive & forget, let the invaders keep their stolen land and just "get an education" are COWARDS & WHITE SUPREMACISTS in black skin. Our ultimate goal shouldn't be working for whites, that only increases THEIR WEALTH, not ours. Our goal should be to make whites and any other foreigner who happens to be sojourning in OUR land to work for US. - Richard | 2015-01-09 20:37:00 [12200]
  • Hi Lawrence Ross, Nyambe Sankwasa and other Commentators - All your arguments are valid. We all share the point that colour should not play the major role in the appointment of employees - whether it's 'n junior post or a managing director and that much more should be done to train black employees to make them fit for senior jobs and executive positions. What is however very alarming is the fact that all the State Owned Enterprises (parastatals of government), is poorly managed, make huge losses and absorb millions in tax payers money from the budget. More pressure should be but on government to appoint more suitable directors and managers in all the State Owned Enterprises. Profits which are made by the private sector, are squandered by the SOE's - money which could have been applied more effectively. Government should likewise do much more to train their own employees and and expose them to performance appraisals to increase productivity. - Freedom Fighter | 2015-01-09 17:33:00 [12199]
  • From own experience I can definitly say that only alot of hard work and dedication will bring you up the O&L ladder no matter your skin colour! The bigger the company the more difficult it becomes.Nobody is given preverencial treatment. And by the only black and white people count? In what category would you then put the colourds or are they not considerd relevant in this discussion? - Birgit | 2015-01-09 15:41:00 [12198]
  • Employment must not be based on race. Who ever is qualified to move the company to the next level let him/her appointed. - Emmanuel Kaulumah | 2015-01-09 14:53:00 [12197]
  • Hamunyela Konembudu and Lawrence Ross i think the two of u are very very short sited. There are a lot more educated black Namibians in this country than there is white people. whites are in the minority and therefore your argument does hold water and it's to a lesser extent very insulting on Mr Konembudu's side with this statement( Blacks must get off their inefficient and lazy behinds to work hard in order for them to earn a spot in good companies such as O & L and not wait and expect to be appointed on skin colour or gender. Go to school, study, work hard and earn your spot damnit! I am just tired of this entitlement syndrome among fellow blacks from). it is very irresponsible for a black man to come out and say such thing. They are a lot of qualified blacks who have successfully ran some of the biggest entities in this country. Such, Jerry Mwadhinohamba with MVA, Sebby Kankondi with Namport and Bidvest Namibia, Evert Kandongo with African Engineering and Bissey Uirab with Namport to mention just a few. I think the two of you are talking *. Get of it and smell the coffee. This issues are real and a bad image for this country. We know the business is owned by whites hence the employment of whites only in top positions. Rubbish. - Nyambe Sankwasa | 2015-01-09 14:30:00 [12193]
  • To Freedom Fighter, Hamunyela Konembudu and all Namibians there are many qualified Black Namibians for these jobs. Some have master's degrees from Namibia, South Africa, Europe and/or the United States. These companies apparently have not set in place any training programs for upward mobility. This is how Blacks stay subservient, Whites have all the skills and don't pass them on to Blacks but to Whites. The same thing had happened in most African countries, so at independence African countries were not able to function at the high level of their colonization. Many Namibians feel that the country could not survive and flurish without the Whites, but that is only because the Blacks were never given the skills (and low self esteem). I hope no one's feelings were hurt. - Lawrence Ross | 2015-01-09 10:46:00 [12192]

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