Samson cracks whip at two Air Nam managers

Air Namibia Managing Director, Mandi Samson, has forced two senior managers, who allegedly received salary increments without the blessings of the former Board led by Haroldt Schmidt, to return the money paid to them on a monthly basis. 

The Villager understands that Samson, guided by the audit report, proved that the two senior managers, General Manager of Human Capital Management and Corporate Services Michelle Heitha and General and Manager of Ground Operations at the Air Namibia Kate du Toit, received salary increments of N$10 000 approved by the former Acting General Mnager Rene Gsponer, who has since been shown the door by the national airliner. 

Samson has ordered deductions from du Toit and Heitha’s monthly salaries which were effected starting last month, although the two have shown their discontent with the issue. The Villager understands that Heita called her lawyers to her rescue who demanded that the national Airliner reimburse the money within 24 hours or face the possibility of legal action. 

Contacted for comment, Air Namibia Spokesperson, Paul Nakawa, could not give details on the matter saying, “Salaries are confidential matters between employees and employers therefore it’s totally unethical to discuss this in the public domain.” 

Air Namibia received an internal audit a few months ago containing gross irregularities and had incriminating findings against the members of the outgoing board and some senior managers. 

A bitter wrangle ensued between the then Air Namibia Acting Managing Director, Rene Gsponer, and the internal audit sub-committee which The Villager understands handed a damning audit report to the new Minister of Works and Transport, Alpheus !Naruseb, for studying and conferment to the incoming board to remedy in their tenure. 

The Audit Committee of Air Namibia which consists of Florette Nakusera, Elisie Eises and Erastus Hoveka have had a frosty relationship with Gsponer in the past few years. 

The audit zoomed into the employment of expatriates and also touched on why the Managing Director (MD) Rene Gsponer increased the salaries of a few managers by between N$10 000 and N$20 000 late last year. 

The report investigated various irregularities which ranged from Gsponer abusing his authority as Acting MD to give Michelle Heitha and Kate du Toit, a British national, a unilateral, unapproved N$10,000 increase for each of them since August 2014. 

In April 2015, he increased their salaries with another N$10,000 and this sparked discontent amongst the staff of Air Namibia. 

Du Toit told The Villager that she could not speak on the matter saying, “We are not allowed to speak to the media on this issue.” Heitha shared the same sentiments saying, “I am not comfortable to discuss salary related information with the media. This is a personal matter that I hope to resolve internally.” 

The Villager understands that Gsponer confronted his audit team seeking explanation on why they did not give him the audit report as he is the deciding manager in the absence of the board whose mandate lapsed end of June this year. 

Investigations by The Villager also confirm that the Air Namibia Audit Committee was equally divided over the legality of their mandate to discuss the audit report, and Nakusera and Eises were adamant that the right thing to do was to hand over the findings of the audit report to the Works and Transport Minister.