Was Geises ‘pushed’ from Standard Bank?

Mercia Geises

Outgoing Standard Bank Namibia chief executive officer (CEO) Mercia Geises has been at the centre of protracted exit negotiations with the board since January – a move that suggests she may have jumped before she was pushed.

Her exit comes shortly after the bank announced a record profit in five years and has brought to the fore a power struggle between South African and Namibian bankers.

The Namibian understands that shortly before her appointment in 2021, Geises divided Standard Bank’s two centres of power.

Sources say group level officials in South Africa did not support her appointment, and instead favoured Andrew Maske, who is currently the chief operations officer at First National Bank Namibia.

However, the bank’s Namibian board insisted on Geises and appeared to have appointed her despite reservations from South Africa.

Despite delivering a profit of N$624 million in 2022, up from N$366 million in 2021, it was not enough to save her from being let go, as the guillotine had been hovering over her head prior to her resignation.

Geises’ tenure of about 24 months has been a roller coaster.

By January this year, Geises was allegedly already at the centre of protracted exit negotiations with the board. She is believed to have been declining an offer of a three-month payout to vacate the position.
Two weeks ago she declined to comment.


Her supporters claim she was ousted for allegedly pushing for the bank’s independence from South Africa.

Standard Bank Namibia works as a franchise. This means all aspects of its operations, ranging from financial management to information technology systems, are based on templates established by the South African group.

The tense relationship between Geises and South Africa’s head office is believed to be the reason why Standard Bank’s head of human resources also left the bank two months ago.

The Namibian earlier this year reported that Bank of Namibia governor Johannes !Gawaxab attempted to change the banking supervision law to empower him to be able to veto commercial banks’ decisions to hire and fire executives.

The central bank has denied such claims. Geises has publicly stated that !Gawaxab was her mentor when they worked together at Old Mutual Africa.

Magreth Mengo, Standard Bank spokesperson, three weeks ago said Geises has left the bank in good shape.

“We confirm that Mercia Geises has made the personal decision to step down as CEO after achieving the highest profits in Standard Bank Namibia’s history under her leadership,” she said.

“It is an honour for Geises to say goodbye to Standard Bank on such a high note, and her seven-year contribution to the bank has been of great impact,” she said.

Mengo went on to say “the relationship between Geises, the executive team, the board and the Standard Bank Group is one of mutual respect and understanding”.

“Standard Bank Namibia wishes Geises joy and success on the journey that lies ahead of her – both personally and professionally – and salutes her for the impact she had on the bank. She will surely go down in our history as a leader who led boldly and courageously.”

The Namibian has been informed that Standard Bank is currently undertaking an investigation on the possible ties to an income tax fraud case of around N$136 million.


An investigation at Standard Bank reportedly took place, which looked into the income tax refund as well as the bank’s non-compliance with anti-money-laundering and exchange-controls regulations enforced by the Bank of Namibia.

The internal investigation is believed to have concluded that the bank has a weak control environment and is unable to manage risk. Some believe the head office used these investigations as a means to push Geises out.

Spokesperson Mengo, however, said the relationship between Geises, the executive, board, and Standard Bank Group is one of mutual respect and understanding.

She said: “We would like to assure our clients and valued stakeholders that Standard Bank Namibia conducts its business within the highest international governance standards and in compliance with all country laws and regulations governing the banking sector.”
Standard Bank has, since last year, seen three executives leave the company.

The first departure was that of chief financial officer Letitea du Plessis, followed by head of human resources Vivian Kaposambo, who left earlier this year.

Titus Ndove, who previously held the position of public sector executive at Standard Bank Namibia, also jumped ship in recent years.
Ndove is now the executive director of finance and public enterprises.

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