President Hage Geingob celebrated his 100 days in Government last week in a manner that saw him implementing a few changes to his slogan of no Namibian should be left out.
A closer look at the President’s 100 days shows that there has been some ground shaking on both the political and economic side of life since he took over. This is the same period when he announced his voluntary declaration of assets in a bid to build on transparency and good governance.
The declaration by Dr Geingob was the first by an African leader and will always be counted as the hall mark of transparency by a leader keen to lead by example.
He also introduced the same concept for his ministers and Permanent Secretaries who are expected to declare their interest in the hope that they prioritise Government business as compared to being both the public servant and the business person.
While there has been debate on the asset declaration and whether it does enough to encourage transparency across the civil service the President obviously still need to dig in his heels a bit to push for efficient service delivery in the public service.
The Government is still ridiculed by reasonable non-performance by some employees. It is very visible that the traits of some civil servants is that of people who do not get thorough supervision. At some point this has to stop if the implementations made by the President to improve efficiency are anything to go by.
Government still has employees who leave their offices on Friday at 3pm and they believe they do not owe anything to the ordinary Namibian who is responsible for paying their salaries through taxes. This has to stop at some point if efficient service delivery is going to be the cornerstone of President Geingob’s
Efficiency of Cabinet
The President also came up with a new system where Ministers are expected to submit their plans of action which will be benchmarked on implementation. This is a good way of moving forward but has the mechanism to make sure that each minister is meeting their targets been put on ground. The challenge with a plan of action is that the bulk of the ministers have the resources to craft a comprehensive plan of action but whether they implement these to their logical conclusion is another story.
Namibia has always been one of the countries in this continent that has sound policies on paper but those where never implemented and today there is still misunderstandings why we are underdeveloped. The bulk of Dr Geingob’s cabinet are technocrats while there are a few carrier politicians which means he has the right team to do the job.
However if he is to achieve the best results out of the team he has, he would have to implement a serious monitoring and evaluation system that has potential to flash out weak elements. This should automatically see the Prime Minister’s office taking drastic action on those that are
like Dr Geingob was the first African leader to declare his assets perhaps he could as well have a system where he is the first President to dismiss those that are not performing in his cabinet.
Appointment of advisory team
The President also completed his 100 days by appointing what many termed the A-team. This team consist of some technocrats with a proven track record.
Some of the names in the team include Albertus Aochamub the man credited for turning around the fortunes of national broadcaster NBC and steering Namibia to digital television, John Steytler, a man credited for setting up an efficient statistics bureau with ability to respond to needs and deliver statics in time, Penny Akweenye who in the past drove the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia with relevant efficiency.
There are also other names including Ettien Maritz who has been part of the Prime Minister’s Office and by any standards a dedicated and efficient civil servant.
Perhaps one would want to give credit to the President for settling with an efficient team but some quarters in society have equated his appointment of advisors as a way of taking from John to give to Peter. These individuals have been very efficient in their previous portfolios and one would wonder whether in the institutions they are leaving will have the luxury of replacing them with the same technical expertise.
The NBC for instance will need someone with ability to continue consolidating while obviously the NSA will need to double their efforts in keeping up with Steytler’s abilities.
The obvious critics have libelled the team an expensive team but once again there is need to give that benefit of the doubt and wait to see if the team will be able to stand the heat and justify their supposed high salaries.
Appointment of Permanent Secretaries
Perhaps where the President might have slackened a little is the failure to inject enough young and vibrant blood into his team of Permanent secretaries. While there are six new appointment the rest were just reshuffled. The reshuffling is a typical scenario where old wine is being put into new bottles.
While some reshuffled PSEs have been a reasonable job in the past the truth is that there are some who have been doing an equally awful job as well. Moving a person who was not performing without necessarily replacing him or her is somewhat condoning failure. There is no way one person who has been failing at Works for instance can inject fresh ideas elsewhere for instance. In the same vein there is also very little a person who is beyond the 60 age mark can do that will inject fresh ideas into the civil service.
One would have expected the Prime Minister to introduce some new faces relevant enough to signify the wave of change that is in the air and obviously a few young faces would have played the trick . However one would not want to be stuck in criticising for the sake of as time will tell.