By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK He considers 2006 a watershed year for civil servants to get their act together as a high priority for excellent public service delivery, particularly in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare that regularly receives complaints about the work quality of employees. Alpheus !Naruseb, the minister of Labour and Social Welfare said this when he addressed the staff of his ministry during a general staff meeting attended by the press. “I am not satisfied with the state of affairs in the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. We must change the way we work,” !Naruseb charged from the outset in a no-nonsense speech denouncing the irresponsible work ethics and attitudes of some civil servants. “These changes must start at the top. Our senior management, led by the Permanent Secretary must evaluate their individual and collective work critically and set an example of hard work, dedication and honesty. You must learn to work as a team and put aside petty jealousies, old grudges and prejudices,” the minister warned. According to !Naruseb, there is no place for arrogance, laziness, aloofness or hostility among civil servants. “You are expected to display qualities of friendliness and respect toward each other and the broader public. The values of hard work, dedication, honesty and responsibility should be your guide in your everyday job. There is no place for idleness on the part of any civil servant. We want you to be productive and to grow in our ministry and the public service,” !Naruseb urged. He also emphasised the evils of dishonesty and cheating in the workplace. “You must not steal time from your job. Leaving work for private activities, playing computer games during work time, conducting private work in your office and chatting all day long on phones, are all forms of stealing time. Honesty is also required in the use of government property. We receive frequent complaints about individual staff members using official vehicles for grocery shopping, lunch time errands and transporting family and friends,” !Naruseb, who also alluded to allegations that some civil servants use government equipment and water to wash private cars while on duty, said. He added that this was dishonest. According to the minister, he views excessive absenteeism in a very serious light. He therefore suggested that disciplinary actions be taken against such transgressors. “On the whole, I expect nothing but friendly, efficient and prompt service delivery to be the norm rather than the exception as it has happened so many times in the past. We cannot afford to waste money. We must re-evaluate the manner ceremonial functions are organised to avoid extravagance. We must organise events on a modest scale with sensitivity to the impoverishment of so many of our clients and compatriots. After all, it is public money entrusted to us to spend for the good of the country’s citizens,” !Naruseb, who urged the staff to adhere to customer service charters in line with the type of service expected to be delivered to the public, said. !Naruseb announced that he considers the implementation of the new Labour Act of 2004 as a priority this year. Shortly after the meeting, he left for Harare for urgent consultations with his Zimbabwean counterpart. He is expected back in the country next Monday.
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