BoN dangles carrot to !Gawaxab
Secret manoeuvres to lure a perfect candidate for the top job at the Bank of Namibia (BoN) have become the order of the day.
This, following indications that current Governor Ipumbu Shiimi is ready to throw in the towel and might not renew his term at the central bank.
According to sources close to the central bank and government !Gawaxab, who earlier this year announced that he was in the home run of his business career is seen as the favourite.
The source within the managerial ranks of the central bank, who pleaded for anonymity for fear of victimisation, revealed the position was initially dangled in the face of the Secretary of the Namibia Competition Commission (NaCC), who also happens to be the Chairperson of the Government Institution Pension Fund (GIPF), Mihe Gaomab II. The source maintained that Gaomab turned the offer down after which Gawaxab was fingered as the possible successor.
However the two business leaders, this week opted to maintain a safe distance from these claims. Gaomab maintained that he has not yet been approached by anybody regarding the position and that he is not that Shiimi may not return for another term.
Gawaxab on the other hand could not confirm nor deny that he is being head-hunted for the position, but also pled ignorance to Shiimi’s apparent willing to leave when his term lapses.
“I’ve announced my early retirement. But I’ll be willing to serve my country as a way of ploughing back, in any capacity, provided that it is in an environment that talks to my skills and capabilities. And where I can make a meaningful contribution,” Gawaxab said.
Queried on whether or not he will avail himself – specifically for the position at hand – if he is approached by government, Gawaxab remained evasive choosing to adopt a diplomatic stance, “Mr Shiimi is doing a good job.” He maintained that he is yet to be approached with the job offer.
Ipumbu Wendelinus Shiimi, an economist by profession was appointed as governor of the central bank in 2010, replacing the current Director of the National Planning Commission (NPC) Tom Alweendo, who held the post since 1997.
At the of his appointment Shiimi already had a wealth of knowledge and experience in central banking that spanned from having had a number of technical and managerial engagement in the BoN since 1995.
In November 2006, he was appointed as governor responsible for overseeing the reserve management, banking supervision, financial stability and financial intelligence functions of the central bank, before assuming his current role in 2010.
In numerous interviews with this writer, Gaomab II always referred to himself as "the first among equals when it comes to seizing the first opportunity."
He maintains that he was the first Junior Researcher at Nepru, before becoming the first Manager of Model Development at BoN. He then became the first Special Assistant and Deputy Director at the Southern African Customs Union SACU, before becoming the first to occupy the CEO position at the country’s first ever competition commission. Professionally, he describes himself as an economist first and everything else second. Accepting this offer would have made him, not the first – but the third governor of the central in an independent Namibia.
The dark horse
If appointed, Gawaxab will add to his fruitful trail of appointments in the business fraternity after having served in numerous leadership positions in Namibia other African countries, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi and Ghana. He also had managerial stints in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Other top jobs that Gawaxab has held in Namibia include, being at the helm of Air Namibia, MD Operations of Old Mutual, CEO of Old Mutual Namibia, CEO Asset Managers Namibia and CEO Employee Benefits for Old Mutual Namibia. Gawaxab has been with the Old Mutual Group for 16 years and has earlier this year announced his decision to go into early retirement. Recently he was appointed as the new director and chairman of Rossing Uranium. He also serves as chairman of Namcor and Ohorongo Cement in addition to being board chairman of Old Mutual in Kenya, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The 58year old Gawaxab was recently chosen as Business Leader of the Year at the Namibia Business Awards for the year 2014. This award is given to a leader who has particular skills in moving the business and has been able to take the business to greater heights.