Time’s Up for Dead Wood

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By Wezi Tjaronda

WINDHOEK

Time is running out fast for non-performing civil servants who thought they were untouchable.

With ongoing training on performance management systems and reforms that started some two years ago in all government offices, ministries and agencies, public servants will also have to undergo a mind shift, failure of which they will face dire consequences.

The norm for some public servants has been that whether they perform or not, remuneration would still come their way.

But the Public Service Commission (PSC) has given itself five years to see results of the ongoing training in order to improve the performance and effectiveness of the public service, which has come under criticism for its slackness.

After five years, PSC Chairman, Ambassador Eddie Amkongo said, “The long-held notion of once you enter the public service, whether you perform or not you will die there, will be a forgone conclusion.” (sic)

Amkongo, speaking to New Era last week said the training was geared to be in harmony with NDP3 and take Namibia to Vision 2030, when Namibia will be “a prosperous and industrialised nation, developed by her human resources, enjoying peace, harmony and political stability”.

One of the objectives of the Vision is “to develop a diversified, competent and highly productive human resources base and institutions, fully utilising human potential and achieving efficient and effective delivery of customer-focused services, which are competitive not only nationally but
also regionally and inter-nationally”.

Although Namibia is drawing closer to 2030, low morale and low productivity are the order of the day, according to the chairman. In addition to this, work ethics have slackened, there is no commitment to work, while the love and passion for work that the staff should portray to qualify for taxpayers’ money are not there anymore.

“There is an air of complacency which needs to be given shock therapy,” said Amkongo, adding that while the pubic service needs to be robust and seen to be serving the public, currently this is not what people perceive to be happening.

Amkongo added that the slackness with which some civil servants were carrying out their duties negatively affects both the development of the nation and its economy.

Some of the consequences of the attitudes of such service, said Amkongo, are late implementation of government projects as well as non-implementation of projects, which sees money allocated to projects not being used and going back to national coffers.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba last year expressed concern over good government programmes and activities that are started but not seen to completion.

He called for re-grading and re-evaluation of job categories in the pubic service, which would make the service more efficient, motivated and results-driven, and would in turn see faster progress.

The reform is seen as a way of redressing inefficiency, which among other negative things, is responsible for slow economic growth and development thereof.

Namibia has an 84 000-strong civil service, which translates into one public worker for every 25 people, which is regarded as very high. To redress the imbalances brought about by the apartheid era, many people especially those who were exiled because of causes related to the struggle for liberation were given jobs to maintain peace in the country.

Among the things to be revisited in the way the commission does things is the recruitment process, which will make sure that only people that qualify and have satisfied the interview panel will be recruited.

Amkongo said that after being appointed, staying in the public service would be determined by the performance of that particular staff member.

Two weeks ago, the PSC held a Strategic Planning and Consultative Workshop during which the commission’s mission was revised to be a world-class public service serving the public of Namibia by being professionally focused and being a Pubic Service Commission which observes ethics and integrity in serving the public, as well as being accountable and responsible to the public in service delivery.

The public service should also be productive and responsible in meeting the expectations and desires of its customers, which is the public.

What needs to be done now to achieve this, said Amkongo, is for civil servants to “be ready and flexible to change their attitudes in favour of hard work because business as usual will not take Namibia anywhere”.

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