Nujoma pushes for reappointment of employment equity commissioner

Utoni Nujoma
… despite no report produced since 2019

The minister of labour, industrial relations and employment creation, Utoni Nujoma, yesterday pleaded with the members of parliament in the National Assembly to approve the reappointment of Employment Equity Commission commissioner Otniel Podewiltz.

This is despite the commission failing to publish affirmative action reports for the past five years.

The last report published was in 2019.

Podewiltz yesterday confirmed this to The Namibian and asked for further questions to be emailed to him.

He did not respond to them by the time of going to print.

The Employment Equity Commission was established in 1999 to address imbalances at the workplace, and to foster fair employment practices with regards to the recruitment, selection, appointment, training, promotion and equitable remuneration of previously disadvantaged people.

Nujoma said Podewiltz was initially appointed in this position on a five-year contract from 1 April 2019.

His term is due to lapse this Sunday.

Nujoma wants Podewiltz’s term to be extended to 31 March 2025.

Speaking in the National Assembly yesterday, Nujoma said Podewiltz, although appointed for a five-year term, never had the opportunity to complete five years as commissioner because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In reality, we are asking for a one-year extension . . . Cabinet support in this regard is required,” he said.

The minister said Podewiltz’s ability to render his full service at the commission was impacted when he served as executive director at the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation from January to 30 September last year.

“In the period 2019 to 2021, the commission, under the leadership of Podewiltz, conducted a thorough review of the systems and processes at the Employment Equity Commission since its inception about 20 years ago, and consequently the commission developed a turnaround strategy,” Nujoma said.

Otniel Podewiltz

Should the National Assembly not consider Podewiltz’s reappointment, the future of the commission is at risk, he said.
Nujoma said the commission is operating without a deputy director.

“The recruitment process is underway . . . The next-level employee after the commissioner currently is a senior employment officer on grade 8 [level],” Nujoma said.

He said without Podewiltz, there would be a serious leadership gap and no opportunity for a smooth transfer.

Nujoma said the commission developed and implemented an Integrated Review Scorecard assessment for the review and rating of compliance by employers.

The 2023/24 financial year is a test year for the full implementation of this new system, he said.

Improvements may be required, Nujoma said, which puts the whole process in jeopardy if the key architect is not available.

The minister said the work on the Employment Equity Commission 2024 Annual Report for 2022-2024, spearheaded by Podewiltz, is at an advanced stage.

He said the report was delayed for close to four years due to the collapse of the commission’s electronic case management system.

The commission is also about to submit the amendments to the relevant act to his office for consideration and further action.

Namibia Public Workers Union general secretary Peter Nevonga says there may be various factors why reports have not been published.

It, however, damages the commission’s reputation to not produce reports for four consecutive years.

“It’s like having a business that has not been audited for that period of time that you have mentioned. One would expect the problem that caused the delay in producing the report to be addressed in year one,” he says.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News