Govt promoting mediocrity?
Whether it is for the protection of comradely bonds, or downright ignorance that is underpinned on self-enrichment, itself a by-product of the feeling of entitlement that ‘comrades’ from all and sundry has adopted, remains everyone’s guess.
But the growing tendency, or if one may say, government’s habitual embracing of mediocrity, and without humiliation, relentlessly supporting and maintaining those who are practicing it at the detriment of tax payers’ hard earned money, has now shifted from being an anger infusing practice to becoming downright confusing with a humorous twist.
Maybe banana republics do exist after all; that is what every sensible Namibian is pondering. And maybe, these relentless ‘screwers’ are the country’s best gift from the gods – in the form of leaders.
Not so long ago, the revelation of shenanigans at State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and Government Ministries in the country seriously got on this writer’s ‘goat’. Meaning, these revelations annoyed this writer to a point of getting ‘pissed off’.
But as the plot now thickens in what appears to be a Namibian reality show entitled – A Country with a great Future ‘Behind’ It – everything is beginning to make sense.
That we are all part of the supporting cast of a horror reality in which a chosen few (the main cast: mostly SOE Chief Executive Officers and Permanent Secretaries at Ministries) are in the race for the depletion of State funds while inflating their own coffers.
Whoever emanate as a winner, it seems, is then transferred to another affluent Ministry, in what is called a reshuffle, or is appointed to a Board of a certain SOE. Government then pumps more cash in the winning SOE or Ministry’s coffers and encourage the losing entities to become winners by appointing – in strategic positions – some individuals from the winning teams. Another season of the socio-economically crippling show begins.
Verily, recent revelations at the Ministry of Works and Transport are threatening to re-write the great book. As events unfold the masses will be introduced to a scripture that reads like; for the gods so hated Namibia that they dropped upon it some unruly angels – but without a Master.
Or perhaps the master was there but he was napping. How else can one demystify a situation in which three SOEs that are linked to one ministry, on the same individual’s watch, perpetually remains in the red?
Not so long ago the situation at the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) raised a stink that threatened to engulf the whole nation when the Hosea Kutako International Airport (HKIA) was downgraded from stage nine to stage five – which is the equivalent of rather not having an international airport facility – and an insult to the country’s international credibility.
This on top allegations that the aforementioned situation was fuelled by an uneasy relationship between the administrative head of the line ministry and the Acting Chief Executive officer (CEO) of the parastatal.
This is not the first time that the NAC has come under the spotlight for administrative issues. In 2011, the institution reached an ultimate stage of notoriety when a restructuring process went absurdly wrong amidst media reports that the parastatals Board Chairperson, Ndeuhala Katonyala was allegedly globetrotting on shopping sprees. At the centre of the messy restructuring process was then acting CEO, Ben Biwa, who subsequently left the parastatal under a cloud but N$2million richer.
If everything else in Namibia was as long-lasting and with the same level of endurance as the mess at Namibia’s railway parastatal, TransNamib, dinosaurs would have been domesticated animals in this country.
TransNamib has been a troubled SOEs since the time immemorially.
Last year, the appointment of its former deputy board chairperson, Sara Naanda, as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) raised eyebrows. Naanda was part of a board meeting where it was decided to sack former CEO Titus Haimbili. Be that as it may, the country is sitting with stretches of dilapidated railway lines that are in dire need of refurbishment. So much so, that passenger services to some parts of the country have been suspended and only freight trains are currently serving certain routes.
There is no year that Air Namibia does not approach government with a begging bowl for a bailout and the much publicised management squabbles spells more problems than solutions for the beleaguered parastatal.
In June this year the national airline suspended its Managing Director Theo Namases, as well as the General Manager for Airport Services, Noks Katjiuongua. Both suspensions were effected immediately and the Board of directors, chaired by Harald Schmidt, immediately appointed Chief Operations Officer (COO), Rene Gsponer, a Swiss national, to act as Managing Director until investigations are finalised.
She was suspended for allegedly breaching company procedures and by passing tender procedures.
SOEGC in the mix
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Works and Transport is not the only ministry whose parastatals are riddled by maladministration. But it presents a good case study into how government is continuously – metaphorically speaking – throwing into torn pockets by continuously bailing parastatals out. This calls for immediate attention from the Office of the Prime Minister and the State Owned Enterprise Governance Council.