Suspended managing director of the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor), Immanuel (Imms) Mulunga, has submitted a letter of demand to the board and ministers of finance and mines and energy through his lawyer Jermaine Muchali. The letter calls for his reinstatement before 31 May 2023.
In the letter headed “unlawful suspension of managing director of National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor)”, addressed to Jennifer Comalie and copied to finance and public enterprises minister Iipumbu Shiimi and mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo, Mulunga states that his suspension under Comalie’s hand was ultra vires and without prior ministerial permission. This, he argues through his lawyer, is required by directive 3 of 2016 which states: “Before any suspension can be undertaken by a board of a public enterprise (PE) the board must consult the minister responsible for public enterprises and the portfolio minister. If there are valid grounds for suspension of a CEO/MD or senior manager of a PE, the minister responsible for public enterprises and the portfolio minister must in writing notify the board of the PE of the outcome.”
According to the legal letter, Shiimi as the minister responsible for public enterprises and Alweendo as the portfolio minister did not provide any written notice approving Mulunga’s suspension. Further, Mulunga contended, ministerial oversight was indiscriminately disregarded and strictly not complied with.
“Our external investigation team performed due diligence into the possible existence of any written notice with ministerial approval to suspend our client,” the letter from Muchali read and continues: “We have established beyond a shadow of a doubt that such written notice does not exist to this current date.”
However, the letter continues that “in the event that the written notice to suspend our client miraculously and is suddenly available, it shall confirm our client’s suspicion of the apprehension of bias from both the minister of finance and minister of mines and energy. In amplification of this bias is the fact that the minister of mines and energy attended your criminal court proceedings in his official capacity and the minister of finance directed the inspector general of the Namibian Police to initiate a security threat assessment of your safety, also in his official capacity,” Muchali stated.
Mulunga’s lawyer added that despite the board’s flagrant disregard for the provisions of Directive 3, the grounds of suspension are embarrassingly vague and lack any substance. According to him, the grounds include leakage of information, stock losses, without so being authorised, deposing an affidavit compromising the interests on Namcor in litigation against Namcor, as well as breach of trust and role and/or involvement in such wrongdoings.
“The cited grounds of suspension are vague, embarrassing and lack any substance or particularity whatsoever and will not stand the test of reasonableness and fairness in terms of Article 18 of the Constitution when challenged in a competent court of law,” the letter states.
Further, the letter reads, “The purported grounds of suspension are not major offences as they have no elements of dishonesty, no elements of prejudice to Namcor, no elements of risk to the lives of employees and no elements of defeating or obstructing the internal investigations at Namcor, issues that warrant suspension according to Namcor’s employment policy.” Furthermore, it states: “The purported grounds are in no way or form dismissible offences.”
Also, the letter states, Mulunga was not afforded the opportunity to be heard or to make representations either orally or in writing which is an infringement of his right to fairness, which his lawyer argues makes his suspension a nullity.
“It is our submission that the board did not properly apply its mind when endorsing the suspension due to political interference, media conspiracy theories and public social media pressure, amongst others,” the lawyer states.
Mulunga further alleges that Comalie is biased and compromised as she faces criminal charges amidst a media frenzy insinuating Mulunga malevolently masterminded and orchestrated her arrest and detention in order to curtail his purported imminent suspension.
When this reporter contacted Comalie yesterday, her only response was “no comment”.