By Catherine Sasman
The World Governance Assessment (WGA) survey conducted by the Namibia Institute for Democracy (NID) found that Namibia scored the highest of ten participating countries regarding the perception of governance.
However, said NID’s Justine Hunter, who authored the report, the countries are quite disparate, and were not chosen on a structured sample basis.
The other countries that took part in the survey were Argentina, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Peru, Palestine, Trinidad and Uganda.
The survey did an assessment of governance in Namibia, which, said Hunter, might have been affected by the political developments and socio-economic factors analysing the 2001 and 2006 ratings.
The issues dominating the political landscape at the time of the survey in 2006 were the presidential succession in 2005, the National Elections in 2004, and the land reform process, where farmland expropriation was announced in 2003, said Hunter.
Notwithstanding, the survey results – to which local respondents were well positioned to make informed judgments regarding issues of governance – suggested that Namibia’s public sector has a reputation for inefficiency.
“While it was acknowledged that there has been improvement since the adoption of the Public Service Charter, several respondents complained about public servants’ laziness, incompetence and discrimination against certain ethnic groups, and against the poor,” the NID said.
Most respondents felt that the system of recruitment and promotion in the civil service was not merit-based. Nepotism, favouritism and the tendency to make politically motivated appointments have been widely criticised as obstacles to efficiency in the public sector.
The survey further showed that respondents felt that bureaucracy, in particular, was viewed as a problematic governance area.
Most respondents, conversely, gave a high rating for freedom of association and expression. They were, however, more skeptical regarding the extent to which civil society groups have an input into policy making.
“In other words, constitutional rights and freedoms guiding civil society are broadly respected, but civil society is nevertheless frequently perceived as being denied any meaningful input into the formulation of public policy, or as being insufficiently organised to make such an input,” said Hunter.
She said comments that were provided by the respondents showed that although freedom of association has not been violated by the banning of organizations or the imprisonment of their representatives, as a result of peer pressure and defamatory remarks made by prominent politicians citizens fear being associated with certain NGOs that have the reputation of being critical of the government.
However, respondents felt that this situation has improved since the election of President Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2004.
The survey suggests, said Hunter, that Namibia’s governance climate continued to be influenced by the legacies of apartheid rule and the liberation struggle.
“Views and opinions were shaped by lines dividing the Namibian society, which were determined by intense partisanship and inequality in income distribution.”
Further, the groups showed that government respondents generally rated governance more favourably than non-government experts.