21 November 2012

Namibia: PSC Wants War Vets to Make Way for the Youth

THE Public Service Commission (PSC) has recommended that a Cabinet action letter providing for extending the employment of ex-combatants older than 60 be revisited, given the high youth unemployment rate.

Cabinet had made the decision at the time to cater for those who for "historical reasons" had not accumulated enough years to build up pensions to sustain them in their retirement years.

Many of those who were in the liberation struggle and returned to the country in 1989 never held gainful employment for much of their adult lives.

Many thus never had any employment benefits and were not able to amass pension funds.

The PSC now argues that since the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs had been established to support veterans of the liberation struggle, including those who joined the public service, the Cabinet decision should be reconsidered.

"Twenty-two years after independence and taking into consideration the high percentage of unemployed youth in the country, it is time to review the mentioned decision," the PSC stated in its annual report of April 2011 to March 2012.

There are reports that some permanent secretaries have applied for the extension of their employment beyond retirement age. Some of them are said to still pay off mortgage bonds while others have reportedly said their pensions had not accumulated to a stage where they would be financially independent in their old age.

But Secretary to Cabinet, Frans Kapofi, yesterday said the only ministry that has applied for the extension of service beyond retirement age, is the Ministry of Veterans Affairs, that have requested that Permanent Secretary William Amagulu be retained because of certain running programmes.

Kapofi said there are "one or two" Permanent Secretaries who are on contract, and will remain in government service until those contracts expire.

"There are contractual obligations; if someone is on a contract for five years, we do not attach the person's age to the condition of service.

Kapofi, who turns 60 in January next year, said he is one of the first Permanent Secretaries who have been employed on a renewable contract.

He is on contract with Government until March 2015.

Some civil servants accuse the PSC of double standards as lowly paid workers are retired without any hesitation while those in the upper brackets of the pay structure (and who are financially well off) remain on the payroll.

The under secretary of the PSC, Morimunu Kavitjene, would not say how far the discussions on the extension of the retirement matter between Cabinet and the commission are.

"Those ideas are there; the commission and government are talking," Kavitjene said yesterday.

The PSC has also recommended that 104 public servants who are beyond retirement age be retained because they hold positions in scarce fields.

Kavitjene said these workers are primarily in the medical, engineering, and legal professions.

In some instances, he said there were requests from the public servants themselves to be retained, or in other cases, the government requests employees to stay on.

The PSC has declined seven requests for extension of service. These requests came from two cleaners, a director, a deputy director, a clerk, and a driver.

The Public Service Act states that if it is in the interest of the public service to retain staff members, workers reaching retirement age may, with their consent and with the approval of the Prime Minister, be kept on "from time to time" for any further period expiring not later than the last day of the month in which such workers reach the age of 67.

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