Power struggles and politicking by the Permanent Secretary and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works resulted in the country being humiliated after the Hosea Kutako International Airport was downgraded and delayed work on railway projects and infrastructure development The Villager has uncovered.
The leaked classified documents in The Villager’s possession also shows that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Peter Mwatile and his Deputy Philip Amunyela, were warned about the poor security affairs at the Hosea Kutako International Airport emanating from an International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) inspection in 2006 and recommended on remedies but refused to implement the solutions because they do not have a working relationship with the International Civil Aviation Director Angelina Simana-Paulo.
The intense superiority contests inflicted by the two (Mwatile and Amunyela) have now created cracks between junior staff members aligned to them and the director of Civil Aviation sucking in the Head of Division of Meteorology and Directorate of Railway and Infrastructure Development.
An authored complaint letter to the Minister of Works Erkki Nghimtina also confirms that Mwatile has categorically made it clear since his appointment that he will not work with anyone who is not Swapo and reminded everyone that he is a former PLAN commander and knows how to deal with those that are not aligned to him.
The Villager is in possession of a thick dossier authored by senior directors (names withheld) of the ministry to Minister Nghimtina on 15 April 2013 complaining about how Mwatile’s lack of professionalism, hunger for power and disregard of procedures has hampered policy issues, administration, staffing, training and fulfilling the country’s international commitments for the directorates of Civil Aviation, Meteorology and RIM.
At the centre of Mwatile and Amunyela’s fury is that Simana-Paulo is an independent Director of Civil Aviation who by both international law and local law reports directly to Nghimtina, a situation that has caused tension between her on one side and them (Mwatile and Amunyela) on the other side. Documents prove that Amunyela and Mwatile have never implemented any recommendations given to them from Simana-Paulo about HKIA, Namibia Airports Company (NAC) or Air Namibia, at the detriment of the country’s national integrity.
Amunyela to the gallery
It has also emerged that Deputy PS Amunyela has secretly intimidated Simana-Paulo by either interfering in her work or by taking commands from junior staff under her without consulting her in a bid to usurp her powers. Amunyela’s fury with Simana-Paulo has been intense that he has authored letters questioning her qualifications and also asking for her to be vetted by the state security agents even after being confirmed as a full time employer.
On June 24, Amunyela wrote a strong worded letter to Simana-Paulo emphasising the reporting structure in the ministry and showing his dismay on the fact that she does not report to him.
“... I would like to bring to your attention that all staff members including the Director under the Directorate of Civil Aviation are appointed and remunerated in terms of the Public Service Act of Namibia,” Amunyela wrote to Simana-Paulo.
This scathing letter was written in an official capacity and printed on an official Ministry of Works and Transport.
Ironically, although paid by Government, International Civil Aviation law demands that Simana-Paulo operates as an independent Director reporting directly to the Minister.
Amunyela also told Simana-Paulo in no uncertain terms in the same letter that, “I wish to bring to your attention that you are ignorantly or ambitiously implementing the Civil Aviation Act. Be aware that if today Public Service puts off the light in your house under no conditions of your Civil Aviation Act, you will be able to put the light on for you to live and survive at the end of the month. Therefore you are advised not to deceive yourself and refrain from making such statements because your legal adviser might mislead you too.”
Despite Simana-Paulo not being linked to the normal appointment through the PSC, Amunyela has also been using intimidating tactics including cutting salaries from government to stop Simana-Paulo from implementing recommendations that would improve the operations at HKIA through NAC. Investigations also show that Amunyela has also threatened to have Simana-Paulo relieved off her duties if she does not abide by his rules although the Civil Aviation Act entails her not to take orders from him.
“I am sure that power is sweet, however at this point in time your Civil Aviation Act from which you seem to draw your power and authority is financed through PSC Act. Therefore you should respect the hand that feeds you,” Amunyela further wrote to Simana-Paulo.
Directorate of Transportation
Policy and Regulation
In the complaint document to the Minister the directors within the Ministry of Works and Transport also reveal that Mwatile refused to motivate funds for the strengthening of personnel in the 2013-2014 budget despite the European Union and GIZ who are the major sponsors needing skilled workers to drive the department.
They also tell the minister that the Integrated Transport Master plan consultancy through the EU has indicated that the weaknesses currently being experienced in the road sector (Roads Authority, Road Contractors Company, are result of the weakened oversight of the department because Mwatile blocked the appointment of qualified personnel.
Staff and Administration matters
The Directors in their letter of submission to the Minister also complained that junior staff aligned to Mwatile is encouraged to disrespect their authority and not follow commands making work difficult within their departments. Fingered in this accusation was the director for Air Traffic Services, Victor Likando who they accused of having mismanaged his directorate by advancing tribal interest and practising nepotism at the expense of professionals. The letter maintains that Likando
“Honourable the documentation and more elaborate discussion on this matter is contained in the submission that relates to the appointment of the position of the Directorate against sourcing junior air traffic controllers from Botswana,” the Directors inform Nghimtina in part.
Nghimtina is also told about the way the aerodrome department has been weakened and how Mwatile has been failing to make decisions based on merit in the departments affected.
A memo which was compiled by the directors – and in the possession of The Villager – indicates that that there is a memo from the ICAO stating that an aerodrome inspector should have a civil or electronic engineering degree or an aeronautical engineering. Either that or an equivalent of aviation related experience of five years in civil aviation which was ignored.
According to the memo, only two of the five current aerodrome inspectors, at the ministry, meet the said requirement with the rest only having attendance certificates. The memo pre-empted that failure to rectify the aforementioned matter with a sense urgency will ‘count against Namibia if the ICAO audit is to be called. This request was met with no action from the side of the PS.
The submission signed by two directors also raises concern to the Minister that Mwatile was working against some cabinet resolutions and pushing personal and political ambitions ahead of national interest.
Nghimtina in the complaint submission is also told that, the PS during his introductory meeting informed managers of the ministry he is a Swapo member and has been commander in the PLAN. He then asked each member of the management declare their political alignment and to inform him of what each of them was doing before independence. Most of the directors told him that they were Swapo members and that they were attending the meeting as public servants – something the PS should have been aware of before asking devisive questions.
“Clearly those of us who are not Swapo felt intimidated and uneasy. The approach of the PS was highly unprofessional,” Nghimtina is told.
Execution of Cabinet decisions
The Directors also made it clear to the Minister that the PS has been stalling the implementation of certain Cabinet decisions. “We do not have support for the implementation of cabinet decisions. Instead junior staff members interfere in our attempts and efforts to implement the Cabinet decision,” the directors wrote.
“According to them it should be the role of the PS to assist the Minister in the execution of a Cabinet decision and to discourage efforts aimed at undermining good attempts to implement Cabinet decisions. “The efforts of the minister are commended in this regard but the same is expected from the PS,” Nghimtina was told.
Mwatile further stand accused of blocking the training of the Chief Worthiness inspector in the United States to operate the presidential helicopter despite having background that this was the first time the country was operating such an aircraft and there are no skills to cater for such a need in the country.
Near miss accidents at Air Namibia
Documents – in the possession of The Villager – indicates that the PS was warned about the need to upgrade Air Namibia’s airplanes before they would carry explosives that almost resulted in a fatal blow of an airplane in Angola. This warning according to the documents was ignored. Among one of the accidents caused by Mwatile was a near miss crash of the presidential helicopter at the airport because of lack of pre planning.
Ovakonaakoni is The Villager’s Investigative Arm, and consist of Timoteus Shihepo, Charmaine Ngatjiheue, Linekela Halwoodi, Jeremiah Ndjoze and Tiri Masawi.