By Petronella Sibeene
Government’s decision to reshuffle permanent secretaries has been described by a renowned political analyst as a way of making weaker performers go unnoticed.
Professor Bill Lindeke, political analyst and Institute for Public Policy and Research (IPPR) associate, said in an interview with New Era yesterday that although individuals were not pointed out for poor performance, one way of dealing with criticism is shifting the permanent secretaries around.
“When you look at the package (the shifting), it is a lot of things. We would have actually loved to see President Pohamba bringing in outsiders with private sector experience,” he said.
The reshuffle was widely expected following the poor state of service in some ministries such as the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
Recently, President Hifikepunye Pohamba expressed serious concern about the deteriorating state of health service standards and unhygienic conditions at all national health facilities and referral hospitals in the country.
He said since such deplorable conditions of service could place
the health and lives of patients at risk, the prevailing situation had to be rectified immediately.
Lindeke said it was surprising that some individuals without enough knowledge about operations in certain ministries were retained.
He added that government should also look into the capability and understanding of certain fields, than just appointing individuals regardless of their ability. He added that that would strengthen the ministries.
Another political analyst from the University of Namibia, Phanuel Kaapama, argued that permanent secretaries should be civil servants and not necessarily political office-bearers. However, there is a close relationship between the two because if permanent secretaries do not perform, government gets criticized.
Kaapama said some ministries are technical in their operations and as such it is not always recommended to move around permanent secretaries.
“Some ministries such as Trade; Environment and Tourism; and Agriculture, Water and Forestry are technical and appointed people in these ministries are expected to be experts,” he added.
Opposition political parties shared the same sentiments as the political analyst.
Henk Mudge from the Republican Party (RP) told New Era that he commended government for taking such a step. However, he said he was worried about some ministries that would be served by permanent secretaries coming from ministries that are not performing too well.
He added that the time had come for government to get rid of permanent secretaries who failed to perform their duties.
“Government should come up with a code of conduct so that those who do not perform are demoted or get fired,” he said.
Kalla Gertze of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) said that government should look at audit reports of ministries, and permanent secretaries found to be redundant should be laid off.