A key challenge for the Namibian economy remains the meteoric rise of the public wage bill. Treasury in 2017 announced that the public sector wage bill, which in 2018 stood at 49% of all non-interest expenditure, had been a major driver for increased public expenditure.
The 2017 wage bill was budgeted at N$28 billion out of a total budget of N$62 billion and had increased by N$4 billion from 2016.
Despite Government’s zeal to eliminate ghost workers and in an attempt to arrest the ever ballooning bill, the Namibian government through the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) paid N$14,8 million for a payroll and human capital system that later had to be discarded, because it was below standard.
The Patriot understands that government is also spending an additional amount of N$ 40 million as licence fees for the system.
In 2007/2008 the Office of the Prime Minister appointed New Point in association with Global Bits of South Africa and Oracle Consulting Services to implement a human capital management system for all OMAs ( offices, ministries and agencies ). Meant to deliver an integrated employee records management system, the system was licensed per employee and was acquired for approximately 90 000 employees.
A government official in the OPM Information Technology office, Erastus Amutenya yesterday confirmed that the system was brought in to ease the management of human resources in all the government offices, ministries and agencies.
He also pointed out that the system was identified to deal with the issue of ghost employees, be-cause the country had lost millions due to the challenges faced with human capital management.
In 2017, The Patriot interviewed Public Service Commission Chairperson Markus Kampungu and he explained that ghost workers are not just confined to Namibia. “We find it elsewhere in the world and it happens because of loopholes within the system. In most of our cases we depend much on the manual system.”
For the purpose of efficiency, the Office of the Prime Minister initiated the Human Technical Management system project that encourages automated inventory system for all Human resource management.
“It is regrettable that public funds have been used to pay for services purportedly delivered by the Applicant when in actual fact there was no value for money paid so far by the responded [government],” an answering affidavit by Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister I-Ben Nashandi reads.
Namibian company, Newpoint Electronic Solutions (Proprietary) Limited last year took the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister to court over the discontinuation of a tender which was awarded on April 2016.
Nashandi’s responding affidavit further read that “the respondent had since [by late 2018] paid N$14,799,800 to the appellant [Newpoint Electronic Solutions] notwithstanding the fact that the applicant did not perform as purportedly agreed upon”.
According to sources The Patriot spoke to, the history of getting the two systems date as far back as 2007.
It was expected that the system would go live in April 2017, but according to documents seen, it failed to do so.
After several challenges identified the date moved from April 2017, then May 2017, then July 2017 and finally in September 2017 an audit was conducted which led to OPM stopping the project.
Amutenya said that he was tasked with providing the platform within government for the system, but could not comment further on its details.
He added that he made available the platform in 2018, but the system was soon after halted because it was said to not be serving its purpose and was faulty.
Amutenya said that he could not comment further on the said failure of the system as he only provided the platform and knew nothing further.
Despite the government saying the system was not up to operational standard, Newpoint Managing Director Johannes Ortman in his founding affidavit wrote that their contract was unfairly cancelled and are asking the court to review a decision by government to cancel their contract.
Newpoint was informed on 19 April 2018 that they had to with immediate effect rectify incorrect issues detected following an audit report and joint verification process.
“You are therefore required to rectify the incorrect issues highlighted on the audit report from Oracle as well as the joint verification report, and deliver a fully corrected error free system within 14 days the date of receipt of this letter”.
Ortman in his affidavit however said that it is irrational for government to cancel the tender/contract for the installation of the payroll and human capital as it was still in its implementation phase.
Ortman during a telephonic interview said he chooses not to comment on the matter as it is before the court.
Government loses millions to ghostworkers
It was reported in the media last year that over a dozen teachers from schools in the Zambezi region were arrested and charged with fraud and contraventions of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, in connection with a N$10 million salary scam.
It was discovered that there were ghost teachers on the payroll when the Ministry of Education conducted an audit last year.
A 2015 assessment by PriceWaterhouseCoopers also exposed that the education ministry was paying full salaries to about 6 000 ghost teachers.
The Patriot in February 2018 reported that Namibia’s public sector wage bill swallows nearly half of the national budget and 16% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.