New Era reporter Kuzeeko Tjitemisa recently had an interview with the chief regional officer (CRO) of Otjozondjupa Regional Council, Jane Kuhanga, who spoke about the challenges she faced.
Madam, as you may have started the countdown to leaving office and thus preparing to handover to your successor or caretaker, looking back to the day when you assumed office what is the first thing that comes to mind?
The first thing that comes to mind is that I have made a significant contribution to the improvement of the livelihood of the inhabitants of Otjozondjupa, particularly in the last five years as chief regional officer.
You joined the regional office in 2011 from the National Council where you worked as a director. Did you find the new environment very different compared to the National Council?
The environment was completely different.
How long did it take you to settle in this office, or was it a matter of hitting the ground running?
It took me some time to hit the ground running
What were the most formidable challenges you immediately had to deal with upon assuming office and how did you equip yourself for the task?
Since the office had been without an administrative head for almost 5 years administrative processes were lagging behind. An administrative turnaround had to be put in place and compliance in terms of relevant laws has since become the motto in the execution of our duties.
Lack of service delivery or inadequate service delivery has been a matter of concern among regional offices? Has your office been an exception in this regard? And if so, in what regard has it been an exception?
The expectation of the public in terms of service delivery at regional level is most of the time misunderstood. At regional level you have various role players mandated by various Acts of Parliament to carry out various functions, hence in most cases what is regarded as inadequate service delivery might be confused with services to be rendered by other public entities. Yes, here and there we experienced inadequate service delivery, especially in the settlements under the jurisdiction of the regional council, due to limited funds allocation.
Do you think criticism regarding lack of service delivery has been fair?
It hasn’t been fair, as resources are limited and the needs outweigh the resources available.
Why are you leaving office, if one may ask? Is it because you may not have delivered over the past five years or so?
I was appointed on a five-year contract and it will come to an end, as expected. I am confident and certain that I have delivered what was expected from me. My record speaks for itself and is evidence-based.
Would you be leaving this office a happy person and with a sense of fulfilment? If yes, why?
Yes I will be leaving this office as a happy person, because I will leave the office better than I found it.
If there is one thing you would better and best if given the chance in a similar position, what is that?
I will focus more on ensuring that roles and functions are clearly defined and continuous training is provided.
Do you think as regional administrators you receive the necessary moral, material and even financial support from the political principals, regional and central?
As a civil servant, who has been in government for almost 31 years, I fully understood the way government functions. Resources are limited and hence the need for the public to understand that for government to deliver public-private partnerships should be encouraged.
If there were anything that you have to advise your fellow CROs, as well as political principals, to get the regional office on the right track, what would that be?
All role players should comply and adhere to the various legal instruments that guide them in the execution of their functions and duties, as per their different mandates, and to uphold the laws of the Republic of Namibia at all times.
What would you say has been your most significant achievement(s) on the Otjozondjupa Regional Council during your tenure as CRO?
A new administrative block has been completed. Council can accommodate more staff members, as per its organisational structure. A Council Chamber has been built and the public can now come and attend Council sessions.
For the first the schedule of Council sessions has been advertised in newspapers and this will enhance public participation in the law-making process. The staff complement has increased from 30 percent to 85 percent.
The financial statements are up to date and sound. Administrative structures have been established and are functional, i.e. the Tender Board, Economising Committee, training committees, etcetera.
The Gam and Tsumkwe solar power plant is providing electricity to the inhabitants of Tsumkwe Constituency who are far from the national grid, as well as the removal of the bucket system in Kalkfeld.
To what degree would you abrogate the achievement(s) to your able leadership?
I will give myself an 80 percent rating.
And what would you say has been your biggest personal failure as a CCO and what do you attribute that to.
And your biggest personal achievement?
My biggest personal achievement is the person I became and the many people I have helped during the course of my journey as a civil servant.
Starting from being a teacher, an officer and promoted to head the fourth largest region as chief regional officer.
If there is any wisdom that you can bequeath to the CRO, the regional council and the population of Otjozondjupa now that you are leaving, what would that be?
I will leave them with quote: “Anyone can show leadership, because leadership is not about a position, but about a mindset, a way of being.
For anyone trying to emulate what Otjozondjupa Regional Council has done, is there any major lesson that you would share?
There is proper regional coordination among decentralised functions, as well as de-concentrated offices in the region, particularly Ministry of Health, Ministry of Land Reform, Ministry of Gender, the Namibian Police, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Ministry of Agriculture Water and Forestry and Local Authorities, to mention a few.
If there is anything that you are going to miss about this office, what would that be?
I will miss the Council meetings. However, Council meetings are open to the public so I will make it a point to come and attend in the new chamber.
If there is anything that you would not want to come back to this office for should such an opportunity presents itself, what would that be?
“I have done my part in terms of all assignments given to me. My goal was not to be here forever, but my goal was to create something that will live forever. That I have done with flying colours.
Where to from here?
An ordinary unemployed Namibian trying to unearth my hidden potential and playing a vital role as a concerned citizen that should contribute in building the Namibian House.