Sixty days as Minister of Works and Transport

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WINDHOEK, 16 February 2016 - Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa emphasising a point while contributing to the discussion during the consultative meeting between President Hage Geingob and Namibia National Farmers' Union (NNFU) leadership at State House. (Photo by: Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

In February, after I was appointed as Minister of Works and Transport, I officially and publicly introduced myself to the ministerial staff as well as to leaders of the various SOEs resorting under the ministry.
I delivered a policy statement, which was disseminated further to other staff members. I paid familiarization and site visits and interacted with the leaders of institutions under the ministry.

Accountability, a sense of urgency to accomplish and complete tasks, self-discipline, professionalism and work ethics require constant and continuous improvement – starting from the most top administrative levels of the MWT.
Too many vacancies and acting positions, particularly in the top echelons of the ministry and its SOEs are a reality, which we need to deal with. Acting in a position is not bad but when it is done for too long it leads to uncertainties. The motto should thus be “get appointed in a position, move up in a position or get out of a position.”

Complaints about misuse, theft and wastages of public resources and perceptions, as well as alleged cases of favouritism, nepotism, abuse of positions and corruption in the ministry and its SOEs, must not be ignored, but addressed promptly.

Perceived and real dysfunctionalities and inefficiencies in the ministry and its SOEs must be urgently rectified. Why, for example, should government garages be “scrapyards” and not “hospitals” to repair and maintain government vehicles? Why do we have neglected and vandalised government houses that are now, safe havens for criminals in all 14 regions? Offices, ministries and agencies (OMAs) must be regularly encouraged and reminded to purchase their goods from central government stores, first and foremost.

Many valid complaints are received, on a daily basis, about poor construction, poor supervision of construction activities, poor quality of construction materials, poor maintenance of public facilities and bad public infrastructures.

The irony is that government and some SOEs are allegedly paying exorbitantly high amounts of money for some incomplete, poor quality and poorly maintained public facilities and infrastructures. The same applies to many complaints about quarrels and disputes, about tenders and contracts.
I advise and strongly warn all those who make themselves guilty of the above-mentioned misdeeds. The long arm of the law will soon catch up with you! I urge us all to carefully and regularly read Namibia’s Public Procurement Act and comply with its provisions.

I have already instructed the MWT’s housing committee to submit to me a comprehensive report with clear recommendations with regard to its past activities, particularly during the 2017/2018 financial year in all 14 regions by not later than 30 April 2018. The many complaints that are being received daily and continuously, with regard to e.g. the allocation of government houses, flats and so forth to individuals are simply too many to ignore.

Does government know how many assets it owns? Is the national assets register available and updated? How many government buildings and houses could, for example, be found in the hands of individuals or institutions illegally [if we do a proper audit]?

I have noticed and indeed been briefed that: the MWT has quite a number of draft bills on its 2018 legislative agenda, including the Roads Bill, Vehicle Mass Bill, Public Passenger Transport Bill, Planning and Construction Bill, Namibia Maritime Authority Bill, Marine Pollution Bill and Merchants Shipping Bill.
I urge all involved to speed up the finalisation of the said Bills for debate and passing by the Namibian parliament.

The basic truth and fact remains that human beings, created in the image of the Creator, have disturbed and continue to disturb the Godly-created, serene, beautiful, universal natural order. Even the seasons and weather patterns are disturbed. My advice therefore is: manage your time efficiently for optimum productivity.
Let us do, what we must do individually and or collectively today – today and not tomorrow. The simple truth is and must remain that what is planned to be done tomorrow and the days, weeks and years, to follow, must be done at and during those times. Time is a non-renewable resource. Once it is lost, it is gone forever.
• John Mutorwa is Namibia’s Minister of Works and Transport. This piece has been shortened for space.

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