Nascam employees told to pay back bonus money

Albert Nicanor

THE old and new Namibian Society of Composers and Authors of Music (Nascam) leadership are playing the blame game for the institution’s woes, while the employees have been asked to return their bonuses.

Board chairperson Sula Kyababa yesterday accused former Nascam head John Max of running a one-man show, with no policies in place and reckless spending.

“Our first financial year was 2022 and when we came on as a board, we found that Nascam had no policies. Nascam was being run like a one-man show with no policies.

“That’s why we said, we thought we are going to come and take Nascam from where it was to the next level. But when we came, we actually discovered we had to unpack Nascam and rebuild it,” Kyababa said.

Kyababa was addressing almost 50 Nascam members who attended the society’s open day yesterday morning.

Max’s successor, Albert Nicanor, said he came to an empty Nascam and had to put in place the proper structures.

John Max

“Number one, there was no plan in place for 30 years. No strategic plan, no annual budget for that matter. If you want to spend something in Nascam it was a… let’s spend it. Thirty years, there was no documentation available, just to tell you,” Nicanor said.

Speaking to The Namibian yesterday, Max dismissed Kyababa’s claims, saying it would be impossible for any institution with no policies, contracts and spending money recklessly.

“All the allegations made by the former board aim to tarnish the image of the former board and management. They are not true,” Max said.

He added that there are a lot of documents in place such as the constitution, distribution books and guidelines in terms of how the royalties are distributed to artists.

“At the time when I was there for over 15 years as the chief executive director, we ensured that the administration costs did not go beyond 30%. It is not true that they have been running the institution beyond that,” he added.

Additionally, he said during his time in office, all the employees had permanent contracts and all their information had been filed.

“There was no proper handover or transition when the new board came in and this is why there are such allegations as the house was in order before I left,” Max said.

NO BROADCASTER PAYMENTS

Nascam board member Dice Edo Lutete has called out Namibian broadcasters who play music, but do not pay the royalties to Nascam.

“Ask Future Media why they are not paying the royalties,” he said.

Future Media Namibia yesterday refuted Lutete’s claims, saying they have been paying Nascam for over five years.

Future Media chief executive Gary Stroebel said they have been adhering to the contract between the two institutions.

“We cannot disclose the amount that we have paid over the last five years and are not willing to provide evidence of the monthly payments,” Stroebel said.

Eagle FM station manager Frans Sinengela told The Namibian yesterday that he has seen letters over the last few years, but not since the new management came on board.

Furthermore, he highlighted that Eagle FM is is a talk radio.

“The music that we play is contemporary, we don’t play local genres like kwaito and house music.”

However, Sinengela failed to provide Nascam with the paperwork of previous payments and letters served by Nascam.

Desert Radio station manager Charles Tjatindi said the radio station is not registered with Nascam.

“We were registered with them before the former chief executive officer (CEO) [left but] our documents were lost and we were asked to register. So, we are yet to register with them and that is the current status of Desert Radio [with Nascam],” Tjatindi said.

EMPLOYEE WOES

Meanwhile, Nascam employees have been asked to pay back the bonuses paid to them last year.

This comes after the board reached a decision that the company should do away with birthday bonuses and introduce performance bonuses instead.

According to an email communication provided to The Namibian, all the employees that received bonuses in 2023 are expected to begin with payment plans in February 2024.

One of the employees, speaking on condition of anonymity due to fear of victimisation, said the removal of her benefits and the request to repay the bonus has impacted her negatively and caused her great distress.

She said the repayment plan they received is not inclusive of everyone’s pay grade and staff were not consulted.

“How can they take away the little benefits that we have left as employees? If we are really sticking to the solution of the board, why is it that we have not received any updates on the performance bonus which they said will be introduced?”

Another employee, who has been at the institution for a few years, confirmed that they received an addendum to their employment contracts, which removes medical aid benefits and birthday bonuses.

“We received the new contracts and we were given a 24-hour deadline to sign them. We were not granted time to consult and digest what the contract entails.”

“I hereby inform you that the offer to sign the addendum employment contract which you received on 4 and 16 October 2023, respectively, will come to an end on 19 October 2023 at 17h00. Should I not receive a signed copy… your employment terms will revert to the default terms of existing valid employment contract,” [sic] reads an email from Nicanor.

She said the board and management failed to communicate with the team on the changes, which caught many by surprise.

“We were only provided with a few weeks’ notice that we will no longer have medical aid and as of the next month, we are expected to cover 100% of our medical aid,” said another employee.

Documentation seen by The Namibian confirms that the addendum contract of employment indicates that medical aid and bonus benefits have been removed.

However, Nicanor,in an email dated 13 October 2023, noted that the institution decided to discontinue annual bonuses and introduce performance bonuses in order to objectively provide employees with constructive feedback on how to improve their skills and achieve the company goals.

Furthermore, he noted that all the affected employees have acknowledged the repayment of bonuses they were paid after the resolution.

The late communication of the discontinuation of annual bonuses and the introduction of performance bonuses has been blamed on the previous acting CEO.

“Unfortunately, the acting CEO at the time was not able to implement this resolution in a timely manner, as he had a personal stake in the outcome of this decision,” Nicanor said.

He further clarified that not all Nascam employees have signed the employment contracts and the circumstances surrounding their recruitment and purported old contracts are not very clear.

“We have recently discovered that one of the employees has signed a contract dated 2022 that was supposed to be in effect in 2023, but was never implemented. The employees started to request enforcement now, which we find rather strange,” Nicanor added.

He said there are various issues with the records of all the employees and the justifications of the salary increases that have been taking place at the institution.

“We discovered that there has been an abuse in the medical aid scheme by the employees which is costing the institution a lot of money,” Nicanor said.

Additionally, he also noted that there is no policy on medical aid, nor has there been any company communication or approved justification for the observed company contribution for medical aid.

Former acting CEO Herbert Wantenaar was unable to comment on the issue when The Namibian reached out for comment.

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