WHEN public officials indulge in the blatant squander of scarce national resources, they should not be treated casually unless we want to become a nation of morons and the laughing stock of the world.
We cannot preach about development and taking services to the people, while indulging in the most flagrant waste of scarce financial resources at the same time. It just doesn’t add up. And what is more, those responsible for such waste should be held accountable and liable for their actions and/or inactions and the subsequent suffering of the people who are denied services and goods.
To do otherwise is to reward incompetence and mediocrity for the actions or otherwise of these officials who retard the nation’s development. They are a drawback on the national agenda or Vision 2030.
A case in point of this waste of resources and denial of services to the people is the latest report of a barge that was procured in 2010 to provide river transport to rural communities living along the Zambezi River in the Caprivi Region who have to rely on Botswana and Zambia for their most basic of needs, for which they pay heavily.
The barge was bought at great expense and is a viable investment. But alas, almost 21 months after its purchase in August 2010, the barge that has been christened Richard Kapelwa Kabajani, a national liberation hero, remains moored on the waters of the Zambezi. The boat is slowly rusting and has become yet another white elephant despite the fact that communities along the river badly need its services.
So far, there has been no plausible official explanation for this reckless waste of public resources.
This is a classical case of disservice not only to residents along the river but to government.
There is speculation that the vessel seems not to meet basic specifications to ply its route along the Zambezi waters.
It is also said that the new barge consumes too much fuel. The story of the barge is a stark reminder of the ill-conceived purchase of a fleet of Chinese locomotives by TransNamib that later turned out to be incompatible with our rail system and requirements.
The locomotives, bought for a fortune, have since been removed from operation – another example of wastage of public resources.
Before that, there was the Barden International chevvies, government houses lying unoccupied and in a dilapidated state in Windhoek, Lüderitz and elsewhere, etc. This, despite many of our people having no accommodation and being forced to build corrugated-iron and cardboard shacks which are highly flammable.
Another example of wastage is the state of the art clinic at Mburu-uru in the Kavango Region. The clinic, inaugurated by Deputy Minister Petrina Haingura, last year, is not operating because provision was not made for personnel to man the clinic in the current budget, according to constituency councillor Josef Sikongo.
The facility is thus standing there – another white elephant – while people have to drive long distances to get to the nearest health point.
These and countless other cases of wastage of scarce public resources do not bode well for the future. Namibia does not have infinite resources.
The country is still under-developed and needs every cent that it has in order to provide for the people, particularly the poor.
So much effort and energy have gone into drawing up a blueprint for public servants in the form of a charter to guide them in the provision of service to the country and people. A training institution – NIPAM – has also been set up to provide the requisite skills to public servants and thus improve public service delivery.
It is therefore baffling that in this era of our independence, we still have officials who continue to waste public resources with impunity because they are not taken to task. We should stop this rot, because it has the potential to force the country down to its knees.