Cabinet Looks at Road Ahead

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Lack of proper planning in most government institutions has resulted in poor implementation of programmes and policies that are initiated for the public sector. Addressing a two-day review meeting that commenced yesterday, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said programmes and policies are initiated but often there are no follow-up measures in place. This tendency, he said, has resulted in further delays and even loss of revenue to the state. He thus called for the speedy implementation of policies. “The culture of proper planning in the public service is essential for success in the realization of our mandate … for failing to plan is the same as planning to fail,” Pohamba said. He added that without monitoring and evaluation of policy interventions, it will be difficult if not impossible to know whether the government is moving forward, backwards or simply stagnant in its policy interventions. To ensure speedy implementation of the developmental goals, Pohamba emphasized that all government offices should learn to adopt best practices and discard wasteful and tardy methods in order to become a more efficient and effective public service. He added that there is a need to adopt dynamic systems and processes that can cope with the ever-changing realities of policy implementation. Involvement of stakeholders in the process of development is equally crucial. The President also warned that the public service should move away from centralized decision-making towards decentralization as well as shift from sectoral planning towards integrated planning involving different sectors and institutions for implementation to be notable. “We must continue to strengthen internal mechanisms to evaluate and monitor policy implementation by relevant public institutions. In this manner, we will be able to take remedial action or corrective measures when it becomes necessary,” he said. Pohamba reminded ministers and their deputies to continue strengthening the system of reporting to Cabinet and periodically address the efficacy of policy-making systems to ensure intended outcomes. He called on policy-makers to forge a shared understanding and gain deeper appreciation of the inter-relatedness among various government programmes. “While each and every ministry and agency has its own mission and mandate, it is important to re-emphasize the fact that the public service should operate as a single system, with various subsystems that are interrelated,” he said. Trying to implement different government programmes in isolation would be a recipe for failure. At last year’s cabinet retreat held at Swakopmund, the President appealed to cabinet to ensure that public resources earmarked for social and economic upliftment reach the targeted beneficiaries. He reiterated that government should take urgent steps to address social problems that are still haunting the country. He particularly mentioned the San and Ovahimba communities as being among those whose plight thirsts for a solution. Pohamba acknowledged that these people have been neglected for long and have endured difficult living conditions. “The government should take urgent action to address poverty in rural areas and ensure that residents gain access to safe drinking water, better housing, food, electricity, health services and education,” he stated. During the review meeting, it is expected that participants will reflect on the work of offices, ministries and agencies in the implementation of government programmes especially capital projects. They further have to reinforce the shared understanding of what key challenges are and improve measures aimed at ensuring effective service delivery to all Namibians. According to the Head of State, the review meeting aims at suggesting practical solutions, activities and time lines for the road ahead. It also strives to identify areas where there is a need to build capacities in order to improve public service delivery. He commended ministries and other offices that have taken time during the course of this year and held strategic planning meetings, adding that such platforms can go a long way in assisting policy-makers and civil service managers to stay ahead in addressing the implementation challenges effectively.