MTC executive Tim Ekandjo has responded in detail following a raft of allegations levelled against the company by a suspended employee, who, among others, claimed the senior management of MTC was working in cahoots to cover up corruption and have since also teamed up to get rid of him.
NE: Your name and that of other colleagues have made headlines for the wrong reasons; can you give us an idea what is going on?
TE: In a nutshell, we have an employee who accused another colleague of corruption and circulated this email to all his colleagues in the department and copied me in. In his mail, he claimed he has proof to substantiate his allegations. As the head of human resources, part of my responsibility is to maintain harmony in the organisation. I then intervened and advised the employee that we have platforms through which he can raise such allegations and grievances and doing it in email is not the correct way. Since he made very serious allegations, I then requested that he provides me with the proof of his allegations so that the company can investigate and follow due process. He refused to provide the proof, which he claimed he had. We then instituted an internal and external investigation even when we had no basis to do so and both investigations came to the same conclusion that the allegations are baseless and false, and that the employee in question has failed to provide any evidence.
NE: The employee claims you tried to kill him using the assistance of the Namibian Police and Namibia Defence Force?
TE: That is perhaps the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I can only conclude that anybody making such an allegation is either being malicious or dillusional. Only the commander-in-chief has the power to command both the Namibian Police and the Defence Force, and I am not the commander-in-chief. It is actually a very embarrassing allegation that belongs in the rubbish bin and I will not even waste my time entertaining it. It is funny how the colleague came up with such a ridiculous allegation after I demanded he provides me with evidence he claimed he had and how he suddenly accused everybody in the company who disagreed with him. All MTC ambassadors are guided by HR policies and we certainly do not and will never entertain unlawful instructions, especially from our staff members about how we should conduct our affairs.
NE: There are also calls for your other colleagues to resign alongside you. Brief us on that.
TE: These colleagues are all innocent and true MTC ambassadors of the brand who are committed to the execution of their duties. These colleagues have refused to take any unlawful instructions from him because they are protecting our policies – and that is the right thing to do. Nobody will resign or step down; besides, where have you ever heard of an employee asking his seniors to step down? The one thing you will not see them do is go out there and refute the lies being spread about them because that would require them to demote themselves from a level of integrity to that of lies and deception. If you value your integrity, then be prepared to take loose certain fights from those who have no integrity.
NE: Why is the employee on suspension?
TE: I can unfortunately not divulge the charges; all I can say is that the charges are of a serious nature and that we will allow for due process to follow and give him a fair hearing with outside representation of his choice and an independent chairperson. Even though he has continued to break every MTC code by dragging MTC’s good name though the mud with lies, we can unfortunately not behave like him because we are a company that respect all its employees and people of integrity.
NE: An impression is created that victimisation is the order of the day at MTC; is that true?
TE: Apart from being the most admired brand, we are a very innovative company – a young and dynamic workforce with the best stimulating work environment. MTC is and will remain the best place to work for because of the rich employee value proposition. Our employer/employee relations are very sound and we are all very happy to work here. Having said that, we will not entertain any MTC ambassador, whose behaviour is inconsistent with our code of conduct – and who wish to create sensationalism and seek public sympathy for their own interest. We will not entertain any misbehaviour and will be firm at all times – but we create the best place to work for.
NE: He mentioned your CEO, Dr Licky Erastus; how is he involved?
TE: Clearly, the strategy is to use the most senior names to give the story attention but we are not bothered at all. Dr Erastus is an excellent leader and a man of high integrity. Leadership is about respecting people at all times – even when they are at fault because we see in them who we want them to become as opposed to who they are now because any human being can become a better version of themselves, given they are willing to do so.
His job is to see the best in all of us even when we have not caught sight of the best within ourselves. Having said that, our CEO will always behave in the best interest of MTC and remain consistent with our values.
NE: This story was circulated widely on social media; are you and the other colleagues intending to sue for defamation of character if you claim to be innocent?
TE: Well, we are all acting in our official capacities as MTC ambassadors and we will respect the internal processes to run its course.
Once this process has been finalised, the individuals will be at liberty to decide what action they wish to take because they need to protect their reputations as well. As for me, I have long decided I will not allow anybody to belittle my soul by making me hate them, for I will give no person that kind of power over me.
Hatred is too much of a burden to bear, especially when you are endowed with being in the company of such a world-class brand. When people go out and insult you, they at most times reveal a part of them that actually needs healing.
NE: Are you and your colleagues in any way worried about what this allegations have done to your reputation?
TE: We are not worried about our reputation because a good reputation can never be destroyed by such lies. What is important to us is our characters because that is who we are. Reputation is who people think you are – and at times, we have no control over them and their intentions.
Having said that, we will do everything in our power to protect the reputation of our brand but we will certainly not compromise it by being unfaithful to our brand values. Yes, there may be some people who chose to believe the lies, but they will not be there when he has to account for them.
NE: Any parting thoughts?
TE: We are aware that the ongoing Fishrot saga has brought to the fore the issue of corruption, but we are also aware that some people are taking advantage of the vulnerable state the country finds itself in for their personal gain because they know the nation is listening. I was surprised to see credible newspapers running this particular story despite the fact that they were presented with absolutely no evidence.
We want to assure all our stakeholders that MTC leads the way when it comes to corporate governance and it is exactly because of our bulletproof systems that we will not allow our brand to become a kangaroo brand where staff members behave as if they are in a cuca shop.
We will not, under any circumstances, tolerate such behaviour – and we would like to sincerely apologise to all our stakeholders for this unwelcoming behaviour by one of our own. Integrity is the choice between what is convenient and what is right – and choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain.
There is no better test of a man’s integrity than his behaviour when he is wrong. MTC is the country’s most admired brand and we live by our values.