30 May 2012

Namibia: Permanent Secretaries 'Re-Deployed'

Windhoek — Eleven out of 24 permanent secretaries have been reshuffled effective from June 01, the Office of the Prime Minister announced yesterday.

Andrew Ndishishi, the incumbent PS of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, will now be reassigned to the Ministry of Health and Social Services, while the incumbent PS of Health and Social Services, Kahijoro Kahuure, has been redeployed to the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

The PS of the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Erastus Negonga, is expected to report for duty on Friday as the new Permanent Secretary of Gender and Child Welfare, while the current PS Sirkka Ausiku will become the new PS of the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development.

George Simataa, the PS of Works and Transport, will become the new PS of Labour and Social Welfare, while the incumbent Labour PS will take over Simataa's seat.

The PS of Mines and Energy, Joseph Iita will be moved to Agriculture, Water and Forestry. Dr Ndeutala Angolo, the PS in the Office of the President will swap seats with Samuel Goagoseb the current PS of Safety and Security.

Steve Katjiuanjo, the PS of the Ministry of Justice will swap seats with Dr Peingeondjabi Shipoh the PS of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture who moves to Justice.

According to a press release, the Prime Minister Nahas Angula acting on recommendations of the Public Service Commission approved the "re-assignment, redeployment and re-alignment of the permanent secretaries".

Approached for comment, Graham Hopwood, Executive Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research said it is time for a re-think of the system, so that in future, permanent secretaries are appointed on fixed-term contracts with a set of deliverables within a set time limit.

He reckons that there should be a performance-based management system in place and all PS positions should be advertised as a matter of course "so that we get the best technocrats possible to run the ministries".

"At the moment the system is a political club, which might have made sense in the 1990s when there was a need to accommodate people from exile but is not really relevant now," he said.

He argued that it was hard to see what the logic behind this reshuffle was since "we need people who can deliver" and whose performance should be measured against delivery.

"Many of these PS's have been in such positions for several years, even going back a decade in some cases, so if they have been failing in some ways to deliver on the eradication of poverty, provision of adequate social services, education and strengthening the economy, then it's hard to see how they will do that in their new positions," he added.

He said since the mid-90s, government has been recycling permanent secretaries with little discernible impact, but many do not have specialist knowledge in the areas they oversee, while some have been moved away from their specialist areas for no obvious reasons.

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