THE former CEO of the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF), Hilya Nghiwete, is challenging the ‘abrupt’ termination of her employment contract, which according to her came as a surprise and against labour laws.
Her employment contract ended last month, 7 February, after she was on suspension with full pay since April 2018. Her suspension allegedly stems from allegations of maladministration, policy violations, conflict of interest, gross insubordination and mismanaging of the Fund’s monies.
Nghiwete this morning approached the high court on an urgent basis.
According to Nghiwete, her termination letter came at a time when there is a pending disciplinary hearing. The letter, she says, does not cite NSFAF’s policy or employment contract, nor does it cite a law which entitles NSFAF to dismiss an employee in such a “grossly unfair and invalid way”.
“My dismissal is in fact incompatible with the common law, the labour Act and all relevant international instruments to which Namibia is a party. My dismissal in such a way was the last thing I had on my mind on 7 February as there was an ongoing disciplinary hearing at the time and NSFAF simply does not have powers to dismiss an employee on an abrupt notice without charges preferred and a fair opportunity to be heard. NSFAF wants to avoid the conclusion of a disciplinary hearing where under cross examination its witnesses could not defend the unfair disciplinary process on various aspects raised by my lawyer at the hearing,” Nghiwete stated in her affidavit.
Nghiwete is seeking an interim relief. In the absence of this, she says she will lose her life policy covers, she will suffer serious cash flow problems to fund her daily expenses and she will have no money to pay bonds, resulting in irreparable harm.
Without an interdict order, Nghiwete claims it would be easy for NSFAF to advertise her position and appoint another CEO, making it difficult for her in future to be reinstated.
Nghiwete conceded it was unfair for NSFAF to abandon the disciplinary hearing.
She is represented by Ndeli Ndaitwah of the Sisa Namandje law firm. Judge Kobus Miller is presiding. Jenny Vermeulen of the Ellis Shilengudwa law firm is representing NSFAF.