Namibia: skirmish between staff and CEO of an art gallery


Staff at the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) maintained that their prolonged calls to be heard fell on deaf ears and that their accusations against their supervisor had prompted suspensions and reprisals.

However, the executive director of the Ministry of the Arts, Sanet Steenkamp, ​​said the ministry was trying to find the best solution to the allegations of corruption and maladministration brought to the attention of NAGN.

“The matter has been reported and we have listened to it and reviewed the documentation. However, it is a long process as the ministry has to verify the allegations before they can take action,” Steenkamp told New Era yesterday.

The employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed that although the ministry was made aware of some serious allegations and maladministration activities against management, such as submitting bids to privileged bidders and members family, raising one’s own salary without approval, employing privileged people who have no qualifications and leaving out those with qualifications.

Other allegations include the unfair appointment of employees and the advertisement of unapproved positions.

Contacted for comment, CEO Snobia Kaputu dismissed the allegations, saying she did not increase her salary because it would damage her reputation.

She also said the organization had already submitted a detailed report on the matter to the ministry and the ombudsman’s office.

“I have been advised not to respond to any media inquiries about this,” she said.

The workers further accused the ministry of refusing to open an investigation into the allegations and allowed the board to order Kaputu to take disciplinary action against the aggrieved employees who reported corruption allegations.

However, Steenkamp said she was part of the team investigating the case which surfaced in mid-2020.

“There are allegations and issues, as well as the response of the evidence, reported. However, to say that the ministry never reported the matter is misleading, in fact we are still busy seeing how this problem can best be resolved. take time because you have to look at the evidence, ”she said.

Employees claimed that several letters were sent to the education minister from 2020, but the minister continued to ignore and allow corruption to grow in a public organization.

“Recently, the CEO, through an outside contract lawyer, asked employees who reported him for corruption and maladministration to voluntarily resign from their posts,” they said.

They added that the lawyer quoted to them that the disciplinary hearings he was hired to engage in have now become too expensive and complicated and that it will be better for employees who “damaged their relationship” with the CEO by because of the denunciation of her and of certain members of the board of directors, on allegations of corruption and maladministration, to resign voluntarily.

“The new decision aims to remove employees who have opposed the alleged corrupt activities of management so that it can employ those who will be as corrupt as itself and some members of the board of directors,” they added.

Steenkamp has made it clear that disciplinary hearings in this case will continue until the case is finalized.

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