Iipumbu rejects Nida’s interim CEO

Richwell Lukonga

The minister of industrialisation and trade, Lucia Iipumbu, has shot down plans by the Namibia Industrial Development Agency (Nida) board to appoint Richwell Lukonga, the chief operations officer of the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB), as the company’s interim chief executive.

Nida board chairperson Sebby Kankondi wrote to both Iipumbu and the minister of finance and public enterprises, Iipumbu Shiimi, last Thursday, seeking their blessings.

“The board has identified Mr Richwell Lukonga, the chief operations officer of NIPDB, as the successful candidate. Please note, honourable minister, that approval was sought from the chief executive officer (CEO) of NIPDB, and according to Ms Uaandja, they will seek approval from their board upon receipt of approval from your esteemed office.

It is not clear how many candidates were interviewed for this position, but sources claim Lukonga was picked from a pool of candidates the agency interviewed in April 2021, which saw its former boss, Mihe Goamab ll, getting the post.
Shiimi wrote back to Kankondi on Monday this week, giving his approval.

“Regarding the request of approval to have Mr Lukonga seconded from NIPDB to Nida for a period of 12 months whilst the recruitment process for the new substantive CEO for the agency is in progress: The approval is hereby granted,” Shimi said.
Similarly, Iipumbu wrote to Kankondi last Friday, saying appointing Lukonga presents high risks.

“The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT) appreciates the information provided.

“While the proposed secondment may seem noble, it presents a high risk of culminating in creating expectations at the time of filling the position, including the potential of creating an unharmonious work environment on the part of the current acting arrangement in place,” Iipumbu wrote.

“It is against the above that the ministry wishes to reiterate our position for the current acting CEO to continue until the position of a CEO at Nida is filled,” she said.

Lucia Iipumbu

Phillip Namundjebo is currently acting in the position.

Nida has been without a substantive chief executive for over a year after Goamab ll was suspended last January.

Goamab ll has since parted ways with the parastatal after it agreed on a settlement.

The parastatal initially wanted former Development Bank of Namibia chief executive Martin Inkumbi to fill the position, before he joined the Government Institutions Pension Fund last month as its new chief executive.

Last week, Kankondi told The Namibian the agency would release information when the board’s work is done.

“We will release information on recruitment and filling of the Nida CEO position when we are ready and in a position to do so. Currently we have this responsibility and task as work in progress, and it is not right to release information.

“It is in fact irresponsible to engage the public when the situation is not conducive,” he said.

Prior to joining NIPDB, Lukonga was the chief operations officer at the Namibia Training Authority.

He resigned from that position in March 2021.

Lukonga last week said he has not been notified of the appointment.

“I have not been called, nor do I know about being picked to fill the position, I know nothing right now,” he said.

Nida is a commercial parastatal established to advance Namibia’s industrialisation agenda in line with the country’s policies and developmental strategies.

It came into existence in 2018 and is resorting under the Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade.

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