THE ‘instant gratification’ juggernaut in Namibia is well underway.
Apparently, the Petrotek board is raiding their own company, ‘paying themselves dividends’ or taking company loans (the directors have given conflicting statements on this point).
These businessmen and women, who consider themselves a part of the elite of Namibia, epitomise the attitude of instant gratification that is weakening our country; we are becoming a country of takers who produce very little, if anything at all.
The key details missing from that entire Petrotek story in the media are whether or not that new company is paying its overheads or even if the company is financially stable. And where is the fiduciary responsibility of a board that participates in and allows an off-take of company assets in a seemingly haphazard way?
If Petrotek is already in profit and these figures represent payouts AFTER all obligations are settled and re-investment plans are fulfilled, then good for them; that is a successful business. But, that is not the impression the media reports create.
Most new companies never survive the first 2-3 years of their existence and cannot sustain a profit until year four to six. I doubt if Petrotek is paying all its expenses, corporate tax, VAT, staff, rent, insurance, audit and legal fees and still has cash left over to sustain the feeding frenzy that is reportedly happening there.
The questions about this situation are many. Where did Petrotek’s start-up capital come from: a publicly funded source or private banks and investors?
Are these directors raiding a bank loan-funded business account to pay themselves? Is this just a ‘start-a-company-and-bankrupt-it’ scheme like some of those earlier GIPF [Government Institutions Pension Fund] deals that were almost immediately written off as bad debts?
I agree with a published comment from the director who was reported to have taken the largest loan from the Company and who said that the conflict between Petrotek members is not about tribalism, but money. The money-grabbing at Petrotek has begun and those who took the most are happy, while those who got the least are angry.
One look at the published names of the directors involved in the money hand-out at Petrotek tells a typical story. These are people employed by some else, who are weekend ‘middlemen’ looking for a second (or third!) payday. None of them have expertise or professional qualifications regarding the product sold by their company.
It was reported that most of those taking loans from the Company invested no money into the company.
Is this the ‘grab-and-run’ business model disguising itself as a BEE business venture?
We all have seen this before: Weekend middlemen sign up as directors of a company; the company gets a bank loan or investment for its business plan using the directors’ contacts, smooth talk and a solid potential product; the directors divide the bank loan between them as some sort of payout; the company defaults on the bank loan and winds up; then the directors abandon that company and repeat the game with a new company.
We sit and wonder why workers go on strike for pay increases within months of accepting employment. We wonder why union leaders push for salary increases from companies that are making losses. We wonder why young people with a new diploma and no experience are refusing jobs that require a person to start at the bottom and work their way up. We shake our heads at the man who is accused of stealing millions from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs or the Avid Investment Corporation, GIPF, the Teko-preneurs and other financial scandals alleging huge middleman fees, embezzlement or daylight robbery.
We should stop wondering why this happens: everyone is looking for instant gratification.
Those who profit from these slash-and-burn business models, middleman deals and outright embezzlement, go largely unpunished in the law and in society. In fact, they are lauded, emulated, and admired.
The longer this kind of behaviour continues unrestricted, the deeper this negativity will entrench itself into our economy and society.
(Name withheld by request)