Pohamba Wants Excellence

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-Civil Servants Must Deliver By Mbatjiua Ngavirue WINDHOEK President Hifikepunye Pohamba has called on public servants to create a capable government in order to achieve the objectives of the government’s development agenda. He said capable government creates a conducive environment for investment, sustained socio-economic growth and development, as well a chance for the fruits of growth to be shared equally. “Capable government facilitates and ensures effective governance at all levels. It combats corruption, incompetence and wastage. Above all, it promotes good governance,” he noted. Pohamba made this call yesterday when giving his New Year message to a gathering of permanent secretaries and their deputies at the Office of the Prime Minister. The president used the occasion to give the administrative heads of government ministries guidance on what the public expects from them in terms of job performance. “Our citizens expect only the highest quality of service from us because they invest in the public service through the taxes that they pay. If the returns on their investment do not translate into quality service delivery, they will make their voices known,” he warned. He further emphasised that the public service must maintain high levels of professionalism in the management of human, material and financial resources to meet the increasingly complex challenges of development and nation-building. “Our focus must be people-centred while the rules, procedures and regulations must be applied for the promotion of efficiency and consistency in our work,” he demanded. It was also imperative that government strengthened the existing mechanisms to promote economic growth and boost the capacity of the economy to create jobs, especially among youth and women. Turning to service delivery, he said public servants needed to ensure that the various service charters of government remained living documents that people did not use as mere window dressing. “I have heard complaints about civil servants not returning phone calls, while others do not respond to correspondence. There should be no place for complacency or such lacklustre performance in our public service,” the president cautioned. Citizens in rural areas, particularly women, bore a heavy burden resulting from poverty, which needed to be addressed. Government had a duty to address the inequalities and inefficiencies of the past so that rural areas could become productive and sustainable. Therefore, the proposed economic development belt for the country’s rural areas had to be pursued with greater intensity. “As public service managers, we must commit ourselves to an integrated rural development strategy which aims to eliminate poverty and create prosperous communities. “Equally, we must encourage the rural population to shape the development agenda, through their involvement in local decision-making structures, such as regional constituency development committees, as well as local authority structures,” Pohamba said. He urged the officials, as the accounting officers in their ministries, to ensure that government’s budget is wisely utilised towards the achievement of the country’s national priorities, particularly the development of infrastructure. The government needed to bring potable water, quality health care, electricity, housing, roads and quality education to the people. The key, according to Pohamba, lies in leadership, which he defined as purposeful, citizen-orientated and entrepreneurial leadership. “In essence, as public managers, your principal objective should be to create a public service that is citizen-oriented rather than self-serving; innovative rather than rule-bound; capable of forging constructive partnerships with outside groups rather than being insular; professionally competent rather than being patronage or corruption-ridden,” he appealed. With regard to the HIV/Aids pandemic, Pohamba said he was very happy to see the positive impact the introduction of anti-retroviral drugs has had on people and communities. “People who were bed-ridden have been able to return to work. Those medicines have helped,” he said. He thanked the government, and the Ministry of Health and Social Services in particular, for their efforts to make ARVs available to those who need them He asked Permanent Secretary of Health and Social Services, Kalumbi Shangula, to convey his thanks to the entire staff of the ministry for the work they are doing in the field of HIV/Aids.