By Shinovene Immanuel and Ndanki Kahiurika | 2 July 2019

A SCHOOL teacher who holds a diploma in education started working as a central processing supervisor at the scandal-hit SME Bank in 2012.

Her name is Caroline Chikangu, a 31-year-old Zimbabwean who had been a teacher from 2006 to 2012 before she started working at the SME Bank.

Chikangu’s story is not about her nationality, but it is one of the many examples on how the leadership of the disgraced SME Bank employed people out of their fields of expertise.

She is among at least 19 Zimbabweans flagged by the ministry of home affairs who were working for the failed SME Bank while they were either not qualified for the jobs, or held positions which could easily be filled by Namibians.

According to her LinkedIn account, her role is to supervise all activities and transactions that are processed in the bank’s operations department. She earned N$15 000 per month in 2014.

“Applicant (Chikangu) only has teaching experience. If the position requires a qualification in education, a Namibian teacher can be employed,” a report by the home affairs ministry compiled in 2014 shows.

Chikangu is still working at the SME Bank, two years after home affairs gave her a week to leave Namibia – from October 2014 to 30 November 2014.

Another teacher-turned-banker is Edmore Mabunda, who has an education degree, but worked as a reconciliations supervisor, earning N$15 000 per month. He was a teacher from 1991 to 2012.

“Applicant has no experience in the field. SME Bank is his first entry into the banking field. He has two months to wind up at SME Bank, and leave within seven days after November 30,” home affairs stated in its report. Mabunda was able to acquire a permit last year, which he said expires at the end of this month.

According to documents seen by The Namibian, Sifelani Basket, the technology manager at the SME Bank, only had a certificate in information technology and a business administration degree. He earned N$50 000 per month in 2014.

“His only information technology certification is a programme he attended in configuring Cisco network devices. If the position requires a business administration degree, then there are Namibian graduates,” the home affairs ministry said. Basket is on leave.

Sandra Mtambanengwe was employed as an executive assistant to fired chief executive officer, Tawanda Mumvuma’s office. She earned N$25 000 per month in 2014. Home affairs found that there was a skills mismatch between her qualification and her work. She is also on leave.

“She is an accountant doing administrative work. She has no qualification, and the skill is available locally. Namibians can be employed,” home affairs said.

The SME Bank’s financial manager, Tapiwa Banda, lived in the country illegally from 2013 to 2014, but his permit was extended for 24 months. “The position must be advertised,” the ministry said. Banda worked as an accountant at Zimbabwe’s Metbank from 2011 to 2012.

The SME Bank’s company secretary, Tsokodayi Rekayi, was given seven days to leave the county in 2014 because she has no experience in working as a company secretary. “A Namibian can occupy this position,” the ministry said. She was earning N$45 000 per month. Rekayi declined to comment.

University of Namibia business administration student Innocent Gobvu worked as an assistant at the bank’s help desk, earning N$15 000 per month in 2014.

“No experience. No qualification. No training. How can he be efficient in setting up a bank? The applicant must stop working immediately, and leave the country within seven days. He has no study permit endorsed in the passport, so he may not study as well.”

Another banker flagged by the home affairs ministry was Bianca Kuyeli, who worked as a help desk officer. She earned N$15 000 per month in 2014, and has a bachelor of science and an honours degree in computer science. But she was found to lack skills, and her qualifications were deemed to be a mismatch for her position.

Home affairs furthermore said positions which Namibians could easily qualify for were filled by Tonderai Chiruka, who worked as a systems administrator for N$15 000 per month, while Garikai Mugandani, Samantha Suka and Tendai Mangezi were all hired as graduate trainees, each earning N$15 000 per month.

Other names implicated include Nigel Bwanya, Kudakwashe Nyamunda and Peter Chiwandamira.

The report by home affairs came after former SME Bank board chair Frans Kapofi wrote a letter to the ministry of home affairs in 2014, saying “the declining of the majority of the SME Bank Zimbabwean expatriates’ work permit applications and current negative media publicity might be misconstrued as going against the very spirit of brotherhood between the two nations”.

Home affairs permanent secretary Patrick Nandago, who doubles as chairperson of the immigration selection board which grants work permits, told The Namibian yesterday that there is a mismatch between the workers employed at the SME Bank and their qualifications. He confirmed that most permits of SME Bank executives will end this month.

Nandago and his minister, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, have been fending off political influence from Cabinet members, who wanted the 19 Zimbabweans to get permits, even when there was evidence of a skills mismatch or a lack of qualifications.

The Namibian was told that Nandago said that he is willing to be fired for not approving the applications which he has questioned.

Nandago is said to be one of the officials fed up with the manner in which immigration laws are being broken for the sake of protecting several individuals at the SME Bank.

Iivula-Ithana, whose popularity rose after the turnaround strategy of the home affairs ministry, appears to have less political support among her comrades on this issue.



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