Ministry Wants a U-Turn

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By Surihe Gaomas SWAKOPMUND The Ministry of Home Affairs concluded a five-day strategic workshop that aims at enhancing efficient service delivery at Swakopmund, at the weekend. The ministry wants to become the leader in efficiency, effectiveness and accountability in service delivery, and to get rid of the negative perception of being considered as the “the ministry of long queues” . Hence the strategic workshop that was attended by 80 middle management staff of the ministry to look at how best to change the ministry’s image for the better. In most cases, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has acquired a negative perception in terms of service delivery and staff attitudes towards the public, thus putting a bold question mark on customer service. However, the ministry took a bold step to polish its image by re-evaluating itself and empowering staff. During the weeklong event, participants were divided up into twelve research teams and sent out into the communities of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay in order to find out what the general public thought about the ministry’s service delivery. What came out was no surprise. Research teams found that the institution that’s responsible for issuing identification documents and passports is considered as the “ministry for long queues,” where people had to put in leave at work when applying for their national documents as well as wait long before getting the documents. Concerns were also that people lose opportunities for employment, because they do not receive their identity documents and necessary permits on time. In an interview with New Era, Permanent Secretary of the Home Affairs Ministry Samuel /Goagoseb said the dilemma of long queues and poor service delivery remains because of the lack of communication amongst staff and the long use of the manual system in issuing ID’s and passports. However, he is optimistic that all these problems can be addressed once staff members undergo an attitudinal change from within and internalise the issue of efficient and effective service delivery to the public. “It’s very important for you to know who your customers are and what their needs are. Through this workshop, we are addressing the concerns of the public and putting plans into place to implement the recommendations,” said /Goagoseb. With a new automated fingerprint system in issuing ID’s, the process that used to take 3 000 fingerprints manually per month has been speeded up to between 30 000 and 35 000 fingerprints per month. “We have increased the capacity of inflow with the new system and cleared a backlog of 90 percent in dealing with applications as they come in,” explained the permanent secretary. With a more digitalised and integrated system, /Goagoseb is adamant that the issuing of national documents would not need middle people like private agencies in the long term. “Agencies emerged as result of a long delay at the Ministry in issuing national documents. Production lines were not clearly defined and this created loopholes for private individuals to jump in, but we are now automating the process,” explained /Goagoseb. Officially closing the workshop on Friday, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Theopolina Mushelenga said staff are keen to change their act after working around the clock to reduce the waiting periods of national documents. She added that currently the Ministry is busy dispatching all passport applications received from the regions before December 31 last year. The public are therefore being urged to collect their documents at the offices at which they applied by Wednesday this week. She encouraged all Namibians to apply for ID’s as passports are not meant for identification, but only for travelling purposes. “We would like to reiterate our promise to deliver as from 1st of April 2006 identity documents within 24 days,” said Mushelenga, adding that great strides are being made to issue national documents in the shortest possible time, while at the same time ensuring that ID’s do not land in the wrong hands. At the same occasion, the Erongo Regional Governor Samuel Nuuyoma urged participants to make use of the recommendations positively in their work. “Use the capacity that you have because those who are on the streets are unemployed and want jobs, but because they cannot get their ID’s, they might fight against you and take the positions you have,” concluded Nuuyoma.

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