Works Official ‘Cuts Job to Fit’

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By Chrispin Inambao WINDHOEK A transport and communication official allegedly altered job requirements of a crucial position in the ministry to suit his lower qualifications, eventually landing the job in a development many say flies in the face of the anti-graft measures being instituted in the country. Barely two days after the launch of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Works, Transport and Communication former director for transportation policy and regulation, Phillip Amunyela’s alleged fiddling with the job requirements has set tongues wagging with calls for immediate action. The position contested in a two-horse race is that of Under Secretary for Transport and Communication in the largest department within the ministry, through which directorates such as railway infrastructure management, civil aviation and maritime affairs are controlled. Other directorates under this crucial department employing several hundreds among them engineers, are the ones of transportation policy and regulation and communication. But well-placed sources at the ministry said the successful applicant unfairly used his influence after he downgraded the original job requirements listed in adverts placed in several newspapers to suit his application. Initially the ministry invited candidates with degrees in engineering to apply for the position, whose benefits include a minimum annual salary of N$235 404 plus housing and car allowances on top of other perks. It wanted bona fide engineers registered with the Engineering Council of Namibia but Amunyela, previously the head of Transportation Policy and Regulation, reportedly altered the requirements to enhance his chances of landing the managerial position. Asked in an interview about his qualifications, Amunyela declined to comment and referred all questions to the Permanent Secretary Shiheleni Ndjaba, whose secretary rerouted the query to Julius Ngweda, the spokesperson at the ministry. “Why can’t you phone the PS because the PS is the accounting officer? You better talk to him because I cannot talk on my behalf,” Amunyela said when contacted on his mobile phone. Ngweda responded: “If there is such a thing, the ministry will of course look into the allegations. Yesterday (Wednesday) the Anti-Corruption Commission was launched and these are the things to look at if there is anything on those allegations.” Well-placed sources say Amunyela reportedly enjoyed the support of senior officials within the ministry who were handpicked to handle his interview. The other application was not even considered despite the fact that the sidelined individual met the original requirements. Amunyela, who reported for his new job this year is only an apprentice, say insiders. “There is no way that it could suit him. Basically what we found out is that he should be an apprentice. From being an apprentice, upon completion of your trade diploma you then become an artisan. Which means the engineering position in the department would still be far too senior for his qualification,” said an authoritative source who asked for anonymity lest he is victimised. “For him to occupy that position he should be an engineer by training, which means he should be registered with the Namibia Engineering Council,” said a senior bureaucrat. Though the job was advertised in the print media, sources are adamant the exercise was “predetermined” and that some officials connived to give Amunyela the job that requires at least a degree in engineering. They fear that unless remedial action is taken the country’s railway infrastructure management and even civil aviation matters would be compromised. Another source said the whole job selection process raised serious issues related to transparency as it was “orchestrated”. “There are a lot of people in the ministry who are not happy with him (Amunyela) but who did not know where to go. The discontent is there. All this maladministration has forced a lot of people to resign. We are talking of professionals here, such as engineers,” said a source.