Swakopmund — PARTICIPANTS from several African countries gathered at Swakopmund to review the implementation of the Public Service Charter and initiatives for public service improvement in Africa.
The Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila officially opened the weeklong conference yesterday that will provide a platform for participants to share their experiences and examine ways and means to reinforce service learning.
Another objective of the conference is to take stock of countries that have not implemented the Charter and to determine what obstacles they face and how they could be assisted. According to a press statement by the conference secretariat, the need for African governments to adapt and develop structures and values for the public service in an attempt to accomplish greater efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness and flexible service delivery comes a long way since the early eighties.
"The genesis of this movement is strongly seated in a variety of global changes. Economic crises, coupled with political changes, paved the way for greater reductions in financial resources for governments. It is only recently that the perspectives have changed to those of new prospects and possibilities: the introduction of new public management concepts, managing more with less, results and performance.
"In this context the Second Pan-African Conference of the Civil Service, held in Rabat, Morocco on 13-15 December 1998, decided to elaborate a Charter for the Public Service to affirm the values of the Public Service profession," reads the statement. The conference is meant to firstly restate its (charter) goals and missions in light of the changing conditions and needs of the countries in the region, and secondly, to outline the basic conditions for enhancing its role, professionalism, ethics and image, including the elaboration of a Code of Conduct for African Public Servants.
The Charter was adopted in Windhoek on February 5, 2005 where 38 African states were signatories.
"Given the high level of participants, the conference will be conducted in an active and participatory manner. Presentations and panel discussions will be scheduled over the five days of the conference. This will be enriched with thematic tours and site visits. The themes will be introduced by the chairperson, and participants will be exposed to concrete examples and case studies," the statement reads. Some of the participants were on Monday taken on a tour of the Nava-chab Ashanti Anglo gold mine near Karibib before proceeding to Swakopmund.
Conference participants, Elia Yi Armstrong from the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and Russell Mulele from Zambia were impressed with the safety conditions at the mine.
"I'm not an expert in mining but I am impressed with their safety concern for workers," Armstrong said.
Echoing the same, Mulele said: "Occupational hazards were part and parcel of the mining activity, but I am struck with the emphasis put on the safety of workers.
"In Zambia we have very large mines. What we have just seen here is a small mining pit," he alluded. Disabling injuries at Navachab mine dropped from seven and six respectively in 2002 and 2003 to two (injuries) in 2004. This year, only one injury was recorded at the mine.
Navachab holds the award for the safest open pit in the country.