Frans Enkali breaks the mould…from trenches to CEO

By Sibangani Dube
April 2014
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Chief executive officer of Okahandja and former liberation veteran, Frans Enkali, has emerged as an epitome of inspiration and motivation of youths today.


He will certainly be remembered as one of the few Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) fighters, who upon returning to the country, pursued education with vigour and zest. Today, Enkali stands proud of achieving two Masters Degrees despite spending close to ten years fighting and only starting his matric when he was already 31.


Coming from humble beginnings in Ondangwa, Enkali left the country when he was barely in his 20s when the invading forces made life unbearable for most people in Namibia.


While in exile, he joined the armed forces and began his quest for freedom. He was fortunate to be selected as one of the military trainers while simultaneously participating in combat operations.


He, however, soon run out of luck when he got injured in one the encounters with the enemy on the 23rd of April 1983 in the battle front.


“It was not a major injury,” he recalls. “It happened when I was replacing the magazine during battle and I got a fracture from the enemy’s bullet splinter. On that very incident my commander was also injured in the leg and in the stomach – only the two of us were injured but no one died,” he says.


But the resilient Enkali and his colleagues never gave in.


“We fought up to the end, and we dropped our guns the day we were repatriated to Namibia,’ says Enkali.


Shortly before Independence, Enkali and others landed at the then J.G Strydom now (Hosea Kutako International Airport), in preparation for the big day.


“Although we were commonly referred as refugees, I was never part of refugees, I was a combatant. Refugees are people who live in a settlement and I was never in a settlement, instead I was in military facilities or camps during the ten years I spent in exile,” he explains.


After Independence he joined the national army after being recruited in Okahandja.


Enkali was one of the few people who replaced the British Training Teams, towards the end of 1991 as he trained with them in specialised units.


Government later realised that defence forces team in Okahandja was mainly dominated by former exiles PLAN fighters and recommended further training.


During the training Enkali emerged as one of the best candidate, a development which paved way for him to reconfirmed into the army.


In 1991, Enkali registered for his matric distance classes as his full time job did not allow him the luxury of attending full time classes. 


In 1992, he passed his matric when he was already 32.


“My boys used to laugh at me when I told them that I matriculated when I was 32. They think I was too old but considering what I went through during the war, I am glad I completed my studies at all,” he recalls.


Armed with his matric certificate Enkali knew the sky was the limit and this was just the beginning of great things to come.


In 1994 he enrolled with the Polytechnic of Namibia for a National Diploma in Personnel Management. Between 1994 and 1995 he drove between Okahandja and Windhoek to attend part-time classes.


“Even if I had no money, I made sure I filled my car-tank to enable me to commute between these two cities to get an education. As a way of trying to conserve the little money and fuel he had, Enkali did not drive around on weekends except when going to church.


“I never took it as a challenge but I saw it as an opportunity to do something for myself. I looked at myself and said I am young and I can still do it,” he says.


His promotion as the Regiment Sergeant Major for the 5th Battalion situated in the Zambezi Region in Katima Mulilo coincided with his final year in college.


Enkali had to make hard choices and the only option was to approach the leadership to allow him to complete his studies.


“I told them I have no problem going to Katima Mulilo but I would like to complete my studies first. I couldn’t drop out considering the effort and resources I had invested towards my studies,” he says.


Fortunately, the leadership considered his request and he was temporarily transferred to the defence headquarters.


The transfer brought relief to his finances as he could now spend the little money he had over longer periods of time.


However, before the year, the leadership decided to place him at the Defence Headquarters for the 5th Battalion position as he was doing well at the directorate of personnel at Headquarters at the Ministry of Defence.


In January 1997, he was promoted from Warrant Officer Class 1 to the rank of Captain, a capacity he served up to the year 2000.


After completing the National Diploma in Personnel Management Enkali enrolled for a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Labour Relations with the Technikon in South Africa, making him one of the first graduates in Namibia in Labour Relations Management from the institution.


The year 2000 marked a significant turn in life as he left the army and joined the Ministry of Home Affairs, where remained until 2003 December. It was during this period that Enkali started tasting the fruits of education and he also enrolled for a post graduate diploma in Law of reconciliation and arbitration also related with labour. The degree was accredited to the University of Lesotho, University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Namibia.


In 2004, the world was opening up for the hardworking and dedicated Enkali as he was appointed as the deputy director of human resources in Khomas Regional Council.  Eight months later he was promoted to the position of director in personnel management, human resources, training and Information Technology.


Enkali was to remain in that position for six years.


After completing his undergraduate studies, he enrolled for a Master’s Degree in Administration at the University of Namibia and graduated in April 2006.


Despite the pressure of balancing work and academic studies Enkali did not give up his work but enrolled for another Master’s degree in Labour Law with the University of Cape Town and completed the degree in 2009.


In 2010 he left his post in Office of the President and moved to the office of the Prime Minister.


However, two years later he dumped his position as head of the directorate of performance management systems in the Prime Minister’s office in 2012 to take up the chief executive officer’s position in Okahandja.


Having gathered a wealth of experience as Human Resources person up to Director Level as well as performance management, it dawned to him that it is always challenging to work under the guidance of someone.


Enkali thought it prudent to find a more liberating job.


Making up his mind was not easy as Okahandja is always in the media for all the wrong reasons.


However, Okahandja is significant for Enkali at personal level as it reminds him of his many first achievements.


“It was my first port of entry when I came back from exile. It was my first posting to work as the district administrator of the party; it was here that I got my first job.


“It’s the first place where I started my studies and I got my matric when I was in Okahandja,” he says.


Enkali also attained his first Diploma and built his first house in Okahandja, which he now views as his second home.


With the way development is taking shape, and with the support of all progressive Namibians at all levels Okahandja has finally found a catalyst for development. PF