Wanted: The Ideal Public Servant

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By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK The ideal public service executive should be able to adapt to an ever-dynamic environment, according to Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila. They need to adapt because the nature of public service is changing as a result of globalisation, technological advances and citizens’ expectations. Public servants therefore need to espouse leadership through shared organisational values and ensure excellence in citizen-centred service delivery. Dr Amathila delivered this message yesterday to senior government officials attending a workshop to finalise planning for the creation of the Namibian Institute for Public Administration and Management (NIPAM). The new institute is being established in terms of a cabinet resolution made on September 20, 2005. The same cabinet resolution also approved the start of the planning of phase1 of the NIPAM campus, which involves construction of the offices, lecture halls, a library and cafeteria. Since independence Namibia’s public service has grown in both responsibility and capacity in order to cope with the nation’s developmental needs. It is however short of competencies in key areas for a variety of reasons – such as high staff turnover – according to Amathila. It is against this background that government decided to find a lasting solution by establishing NIPAM as an institution dedicated for the training of public officials. The main mission of NIPAM will be to qualify and professionalize Namibian civil servants with competencies aligned to various public service tasks and functions. “A model 21st Century public service is further expected to promote shared national values through sound policy development and to ensure excellence in service delivery,” she stated. This means the Namibian public service must be local, regional and global as it strives to understand and satisfy the needs of citizens. This task, she said, is considerable given the country’s immense geographic breadth, regional diversity, multitude of languages and multi-cultural mosaic. “Compounding this local context is that citizens are increasingly literate and aware of their rights. “They are not only expecting their government to overcome these challenges, but are demanding more efficient and effective services as well,” she explained. Public servants also need to embrace reform and modernisation, and endeavour to support the government of the day in developing public policy that is sensitive to local, regional and global issues. The Office of the Prime Minister has entered into a joint cooperation agreement with the French embassy, whereby the French are providing technical assistance to implement the creation of NIPAM. The French government has already sponsored a mission to Namibia by two leading French experts in public administration. They came to the country to identify an appropriate institutional framework and training course that will be offered by NIPAM. The Finnish government has agreed to make funds available for the Haus Finnish Institute of Public Management to collaborate with NIPAM on course development. In addition, the Indian government through its High Commission has made Dr B. M. Harbola available to put in place structures and develop additional courses for NIPAM. Dr Amathila said that in due course a Namibian understudy to Dr Harbola would be appointed. Architectural designs for the institute are finalised and tenders are about to be invited to commence the building of NIPAM, with tender allocations being finalised next month.