Saturday 15 May 2021
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Namibia’s million dollar bureaucracy

Government could save millions of dollars a year by streamlining its decision-making processes.
In addition, better coordination among government programs is needed to avoid overlapping.
Government has over the years made investing in infrastructure a centerpiece of its economic plans, but the multi-layered systems and lack of efficiency between the executive, legislature and judiciary meant millions were lost because of bureaucracy and the time it takes to effect decisions.
A good case in point is the Roads Contractor Company (RCC).
In September 2017, Cabinet resolved to place the company under judicial management. Subsequently, Treasury took over the monthly N$7 million salary bill of the company.This means, for almost 10 months taxpayers have spent almost N$70 million on workers who wake up every morning to go and sit idle at work.
This all boils down to government failure to efficiently execute decisions. In the Namibian case it should not be a cumbersome process because the ruling Swapo Party heads Cabinet and parliament. Why then do we have such slow turnaround times?I can only think of two reasons: Lack of will power or disregard for the country’s resources.
It is high time the nation’s ineffective and fragmented governance system is consolidated.
Government’s indecisiveness has cost this country millions in recent years. Perhaps our decision-makers are forgetting that failure to take any decision is worse than taking the wrong decision.
It is an open secret that the delay around RCC is more political than technical. I am not a politician, but I can safely say that running a country on a political “conscience” is the easiest way to destroy a country.
Political correctness in most cases suppress what really needs to be done. In our case, Cabinet and notably President Geingob decided to place RCC under judicial management in order to seem politically correct, but that decision is costing us money that was supposed to be used to buy medicine for our hospital, books for school children and so on.
Under the current economic climate, N$70 million is not small change, in fact every cent should be spend prudently.
The continued release of funds from Treasury to pay RCC workers is reckless and should be condemned. In fact, the RCC judicial management bill should be catapulted to the top of the National Assembly’s agenda.The Ministry of Public Enterprises is another cause of concern. Hundreds of millions of dollars are allocated to the ministry, yet it is has no legal mandate. Why does it take three years to pass a law that empowers that Ministry?If the Ministry is as important towards SOE transformation and domestic resource mobilisation as President Hage Geingob said it is in 2015, we should not be talking about empowering the ministry still today.
Improving the management of our governance affairs could save us millions annually.Bureaucracy in government continues to swell yearly. Yet there’s compelling evidence that a bureaucracy creates a significant drag on productivity and organizational resilience and innovation. This perhaps explains why the implementation of policies remain a headache for government.
The civil service currently employs over 100 000 people.How many of these employees do we actually need? By our reckoning, there is need for an audit to be conducted in this regard so that we can get rid of the deadwood.
After all, government has been speaking of reducing the civil service numbers but no tangible strides have been made. And now with elections around the corner, this will remain a pipe dream because for now we will try to appease the voting populace.
We can get an answer by looking at the management practices of small but growing number of private and SOE firms. Their experience suggests it’s possible to run complex businesses with less than half the managerial load typically found in large companies.
Among the exemplary enterprises we find public companies such as MTC, GIPF and Nampower who have performed impeccably over the years with lean workforce units that matched their operations.The productivity bonanza in government is something we are all yearning for, but a seismic shift is needed, one where decisions are taken along technical and business, but not political considerations.

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