The TransNamib Retirement (Pension) Fund has apparently become a cash-loan service for employees, following a change of rules to make it easier for members to use their life-savings as collateral to access (home) loans from commercial banks. Workers of the national carrier are entitled to home-loans for upgrading or acquisition, provided it is not more than 30% of their gross salary.
According to the new rules, the total aggregate loan was put at 33.33% maximum of members’ credit fund before tax and a second loan could also be allowed. Previously the rules prohibited a second loan, unless the first loan is fully repaid and that employees’ take-home pay should not be less than 30%; loan deductions should also not be more than 50% of the gross salary.
According to documents in Informanté’s possession, President of the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAU), David Tjombe, who is also the Principal of the Retirement Fund, motivated changes to the rules of the fund and a sub-committee was tasked to review the “current housing loan rules to protect members against high debt levels.” Tjombe’s own initial application for a loan was however rejected as the amount he wanted was less than 30% of his gross salary. Tjombe denies this: “My application went through the normal procedures.”
Minutes of the trustee meeting held on 14 April 2011 indicate that “the Principal Officer requested that a special trustee meeting be held on request of the Chairperson, in order to discuss the revised housing loan rules implemented with effect from November 2011.”
Tjombe confirmed that he had indeed ‘legally’ received a home loan of N$60 000 before the rules were changed. He wrote a letter with the heading, ‘special request on loan application’ and the request was approved by General Manager of Human Resources, D. van Vuuren.
Tjombe could, however, not explain how he got the loan to buy a new house in Khorixas and paint its exterior, approved by a local commercial bank in December 2010, despite the fact the newly amended rules were only implemented with effect from the 1st of April in 2011.
A forensic audit report on irregularities at the national carrier last year indicates that after the rejection of his initial application, Tjombe took his case to CEO (Titus Haimbili) who “passed the buck” by referring it to then Human Resources General Manager, Albertus !Naruseb, who approved the loan. Both Haimbili and !Naruseb are not with the company any longer after having being fired. The report also asks whether Tjombe had a hand in influencing the amendments to the rules and concludes that the CEO (Haimbili) was to be held liable for break-down of internal controls and exposure of the fund.
Disgruntled shopstewards also pointed fingers at Security Chief, Ben Ignatius Serogwe, whose application for a second home loan from the pension fund was initially rejected. Documents indicate that he sought the “assistance” of the CEO to get his second loan of N$16 000 approved to buy and improve Erf 2132 at Goreangab in Windhoek, despite not qualifying, as he would have earned less than 30% of his gross salary and the fact that his first loan was not fully repaid.
“That’s a lot of s**t. I never asked Haimbili for assistance. All workers got loans, why not me? This is just part of the fight between the Board and Haimbili. They must face the union, they are just jealous,” Serogwe told Informanté when asked about his second loan. “It is common knowledge that many people are borrowing from their credits on the pension,” reads part of a letter with the heading “Complaint: Declined loan application for money from my pension credit”, Serogwe wrote to Haimbili in March 2011.
Information has also surfaced that two women, including the benefit administrator, received loans although one does not own a house and the other lodges in a company house. Managers at TransNamib declined to comment on the matter.