Namec boxed in by infighting
Confusion continues to reign in the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronic Components (Namec) as the fight over set-top boxes heats up.
A set-top box is an appliance similar to a pay TV decoder and is used to convert the analogue TV signal to digital. South Africa is moving to digital and government is subsidising 5 million set-top boxes for poorer households, 50% of which are ring-fenced for black manufacturers.
Namec, which lobbied government to bring black manufacturers into the conversion process, is reeling as two factions fight it out.
On one side is Adil Nchabaleng and Professor Kunene, who say they are secretary-general and deputy secretary-general of Namec, respectively.
On the other side is Namec chairman Keith Thabo, although Nchabaleng and Kunene say he has been suspended.
Kunene says they discovered that Thabo and Namec member Vijay Panday were using Namec’s name to get deals meant for its members. “There was a company called Namec Manufacturing Services, which was supposed to be the company where shares were issued to Namec members, Namec social partners and other corporate partners. It would deal with the manufacturing of electronic components,” said Kunene.
But according to him, they found out the company did not exist and instead Thabo registered a company called Namec Electronics Manufacturing, which is jointly owned by Thabo and Panday.
A company search conducted by City Press revealed a company called Namec Electronic Manufacturing was registered in June last year, and the only directors were Panday and Thabo.
But Thabo said Namec Electronic Manufacturing was merely a company created to facilitate a deal with “the Chinese” and simplify the organisational structure. They were acting on behalf of the organisation, he said.
A subsidiary of National Electronic Manufacturing is Namec Technologies, a joint venture with Skyworth Digital, a Chinese set-top box manufacturing company. Panday is the chief executive of Namec Technologies.
Namec Technologies announced in April it would launch manufacturing facilities at Dube trade port in KwaZulu-Natal in a multimillion-rand investment deal. Namec Technologies would fork out R60 million to develop a site to accommodate a manufacturing facility for the production of set-top boxes and consumer electronic products.
A City Press company search also showed that Thabo and Panday are the only directors of Namec Technologies, which was registered in November.
Namec Electronic Manufacturing recently signed a deal to manufacture, distribute, maintain and provide after-service support for about 4.7 million set-top boxes for MultiChoice, but Nchabaleng and Kunene say that deal was meant for Namec as an organisation and for all members to benefit.
Nchabaleng said: “Namec members were misled in the hopes that they would be beneficiaries of this transaction. They were given a phantom shareholding structure while the real ownership was diverted to these two.”
But Thabo said this is not true and that the transaction was sanctioned by Namec members at a consultative meeting. He alleged Kunene stole information from his email inbox and manipulated his emails.
According to him, for Namec it was business as usual and the organisation was getting ready to manufacture set-top boxes and continue building the factory.
Thabo insisted that Kunene and Nchabaleng were no longer part of Namec, and that he was pursuing legal action against them.