THE Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa) recently announced its new board members amongst them, modest lawyer Malverene Rittmann.

Rittmann, a first time board member appointee explains how surprised she felt when the regulatory authority chief called her and told her that she was a nominee to the Namfisa Board of Directors and that she needed to submit her CV.

When a person is presented with an offer on a silver platter, they are bound to impulsively grab their share of the offering, but Rittmann behaved on the contrary.

“I was surprised and I told the CEO that I needed to deliberate on the issue and it took me one week.”

Defining her analytical quality, she submitted her CV after thoroughly digesting the implications of the appointment and related demands.

At 30, Malverene becomes one of the three youngest members to sit on the Namfisa board. “It is a privileged opportunity to sit on the board of an organisation that regulates the very important non-banking financial institutions. Because of its criticality, it will be in the spotlight because the organisation deals with people’s future, pension funds, medical aid and insurances,” she stressed.

She added that as Namfisa, the board will level the playing field to become an effective, efficient and reputable financial sector regulatory body.

Rittmann personally feels that most of the stumbling blocks boggling the public institution are statutory related and conflicting regulations and not inefficiency as might have been construed in the past. She further explains that from the early analysis she has done of the statutory governing body the running of NAMFISA, the capacity issues of short staffing may have been underestimated.

Trekking her past, Rittmann is the eldest girl in a family of two girls. Her younger sister Priscilla Husselmann is a human resources consultant. Both her parents, Irene and Malcolm Rittmann are teachers.

She did her primary education at St Georges in Windhoek and proceeded to St Paul’s College for Metric which she completed in 1998. She said her parents gave priority to quality education and after metric Rittmann enrolled at the University of Cape Town and graduated with a law degree in 2003. She also did a one year Human Rights Certificate with the same university.

Her first job after graduating was with Rosh Pinah Zinc Corporation as a Procurement Contract Manager. She later left to start a consulting firm called DECTI Namibia (Delivering Empowerment through Cooperates Trade Initiatives).

At DECTI Namibia, Rittman worked for two years as a full time employee. The consultancy was born out of a challenge by the then Minister of Mines, Nicky Iyambo demanding the mining industry to come up with empowerment initiatives because most of the mines in Namibia were partly owned by international companies.

“This created a window of opportunity for me to drive the preferential procurement leg for the initiative. The Minister’s call also gave birth to the Namibia Preferential Procurement Council (NPPC) which acted as an accreditation institution to companies and suppliers intending to do business with mining operations in the country”, Rittmann says.

It was after her stint with DECTI Namibia that she moved to Rossing Uranium where she holds the critical position of Sourcing Superintendent. Her job at Rossing Uranium entails sourcing and managing the strategic raw materials like sulphuric acid, manganese dioxide, iron oxide and other chemicals used in the uranium refining processes.

To achieve this mandate, Rittmann monitors the markets of these commodities for her to make the best buy based on the overall total cost of the ownership that stems from the raw material producer to when the commodity goes into the plant.

“The whole process involves three aspects, namely, price and contract negotiations, demand management which takes care of consumption and wastages which analyses losses by leakages or wastages and this sometimes calls for changing technical specifications.”

Rittmann manages a budget of hundreds of millions of Namibian dollars and any wrong footing on her part can result in production stoppage whose repercussions can be devastating for the organisation. The recent economic down-turn presented a challenging scenario to her job. Lots of downstream industries were affected like the steel manufacturing industries.”

The plummeting prices were in our favour as it meant buying the product cheaply but the scenario was unfavourable for the continued production of the commodity so the situation called for tactful handling,” she explains.

Reminiscing on her past, Rittman recalls one of her best moments, when she applied to the Namibian High Court to be admitted as a legal practitioner, she said with a triumphant beam.

Another memorable moment in her career path was when she won the contract to draft the Transformation of Economic Social Empowerment Framework (TESEF) and presenting the sulphuric acid commodity strategy to Rossing Executive Committee in 2009.

Her regrettable moment stems from a negotiating contract whose financial impact she didn’t fully understand , “and I negotiated a contract that was not in our favour and the financial impact was big and that experience has taught me to be really scrupulous when negotiating technical contracts”, Rittmann recounts.

Rittmann says the appointment comes with a lot of good challenges and a lot of opportunities to improve how (NAMFISA) works amid the many negative press reports.

Her confidence is grounded in the inclusion of two other ‘young blood’ board members, Estelle Tjipuka and Heinrich Nashenda.

The newly appointed Namfisa board, Rittmann notes, could be one of the youngest board members in the State owned enterprises regulatory frame work. The addition of the young and vibrant trio to the board, Rittman asserts, “will exert enough energy. I am excited for now and we are going to push head and shoulder out and gain that respect from the industry”.

The Chairman of the board is Rick Kukuri and Titus Ipumbu is Deputy Chairman. PF