18 May 2017

Namibia: No Private Work for Foreign Civil Servants

FOREIGN nationals employed by government will no longer be allowed to engage in private work, the chairperson of the Public Service Commission, Markus Kampungu, has said.

Kampungu made these remarks in the 2015-16 annual report of the commission which was tabled by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila in the National Assembly last month.

The report also shows that over 6 400 civil servants - mostly from the education ministry - left their jobs.

It furthermore reveals that 17 new positions were created in the private office of President Hage Geingob in 2015, costing taxpayers around N$6,3 million a year.

Kampungu was appointed last year to chair the commission responsible for the regulation, ethical standards, as well as fairness and transparency in the public service.

He said the commission reviewed the contracts of expatriates employed by the state in the year under review.

"While the signing of the new contracts will not affect those already in service, those now joining will have no leeway to circumvent the employment conditions in their contracts," he stressed.

According to him, the new contracts will ensure that expatiates may only be in Namibia to render a service to the contracting government institution, preventing them from being engaged in other businesses outside their employment arrangement.

"The contracts will also prevent an expatriate from entering the private sector at the end of the contract, as it specifically provides for him or her to return to his or her place of recruitment at expiry," Kampungu added.

The Namibian could not establish how many foreign nationals are employed in the public service, but statistics in the report show that government employed 533 foreign nationals from 2014 to 2015, while 544 were recruited last year.

Namibian public servants were banned between 2012 and 2015 from engaging in private business, including competing for state contracts.

The ban was lifted in 2015, despite concerns of widespread conflict of interest in the public service and neglecting work.

The chairperson also revealed that the commission continues to face another headache: the payment of board fees and allowances to public servants serving on parastatal boards.

He said the current state-owned enterprises' legislation compromises the fairness of the commission's recommendations since some laws prohibit payments to government officials for work done on state boards.

Kampungu said there is an urgent need for policy intervention to level this uneven playing field.

Meanwhile, the report said more than 4 650 workers of the 6 400 civil servants who left their jobs are from the education ministry, 850 from the health ministry, 190 from the works ministry and 150 from the ministry of agriculture.

Reasons for the departures include resignations, retirement, dismissals, transfers and death.

The commission said of the 6 400 who left their jobs, around 3 000 went because their contracts ended, 1 000 resigned, while 730 people went into retirement.

According to the report, there were 27 886 teachers in Namibia during that year - 18 140 women and 9 746 men.

The ministry of education said the termination of contracts is the main reason why over 4 650 workers left the ministry. Around 700 officials were transferred, 430 teachers resigned and 100 died during that year.

The commission, an independent body created to advise on and recommend salaries and all conditions of service for government workers, said they agreed with the "creation of various posts at the President's private office" on 18 November 2015.

Geingob has since ascending to power in 2015 insisted that he did not create new positions, but instead apparently just filled existing positions.

The commission said the Presidency created 45 positions in total, of which 17 are in Geingob's private office.

Presidential spokesperson Albertus Aochamub told The Namibian this month that the positions were created to support new officials, such as Geingob's special advisers.

"In other words, where a position at the level of a presidential adviser is created, for instance, such a position will automatically be entitled to a private secretary and a personal assistant, according to the Public Service Commission (PSC) rules," he said.

Aochamub added that the President decided not to fill 16 vacant positions because the head of state wants to save government money.

"We can confirm that there are 16 positions that are vacant as directed by the President in the interest of financial prudence and doing more with less. Instead of external appointments, positions were either filled through secondments or internal redeployments where a need for support staff existed for senior appointees (such as Presidential advisers) at State House," he stated.

Aochamub said Geingob may also in future make use of the vacant positions during his tenure since it is provided for, "but has for now chosen not to fill any vacancies, as explained above".

Namibia

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