2 February 2018

Namibia: What Matters Is How We Finish

editorial

In life it is not about how one starts a race but how you end it. You can have the best plans and even start like a house on fire, but without sustained movement towards the finish line, it will be like blowing hot air for nothing.

In April 2015, President Hage Geingob said the following:

"Immediately upon assuming office, I was overwhelmed by a large number of invitations from presidents and prime ministers from all over the world. I had to pick out the most important ones that are dealing with multilateral issues, especially issues that concern poverty and wealth."

It was also about the same time he announced a moratorium on foreign travel for politicians serving his government as well as political appointees.

Touted as an administrator of note, many immediately applauded Geingob for the travel ban as it displayed responsibility in first addressing problems at home, and also showed that he was concerned about the lack of cost-cutting in government spending.

Even when they did travel, he had said, the size of the ministerial delegations would be reduced dramatically.

That, coupled with things like the introduction of key performance areas for ministers and senior public servants, for which he said there would be consequences for non-performers, had a refreshing impact on how many saw the path for the future of Namibia under Geingob.

Subsequent reviews have shown that a host of the things Geingob had identified to be tackled had been achieved.

But, the current state of the economy has also pinpointed many shortcomings which were initially identified to be targeted, and then left to rot. In those instances, he did not walk the talk on delivery and we are now paying dearly.

Of course, we cannot blame him for every failure because he has a team in his Cabinet and another of close advisers, but he is the captain of the team. He is supposed to direct them and hold them accountable.

As he put it when marking his first 100 days in office: "The mark of a leader is the ability to cast a vision for his people and get them to believe in that vision. It is important for people to believe in a vision because a leader cannot achieve a vision single-handedly but only through a collective effort in which everyone pulls in the same direction, Harambee."

If those in the team fail to pull in the direction he wants, the President has options. He is the appointing authority and can take steps to redress the situation.

We do not expect him to complain publicly about some ministers who do not carry out the mandate he has given them. Just show them the door. As long as such steps are performance-related, the nation would have no qualms.

But to keep people and pay them lucrative packages for political expediency will result in the downfall of the country.

Already we are seen as a broke country. We cannot defend our homeland with pride when there is not enough money to pay for services; not enough to feed soldiers; not enough to buy medicine; not enough to pay for student loans; not enough to feed hostel pupils; and the list continues.

It is not how you start something (as in announcements like that of the travel ban) but about sustained and controlled management of such undertakings.

For example, should the current travel ban be for only one month? What if those who normally cash in on such travels 'retaliate' the next month by doubling the trips to make up for lost subsistence and travel allowances?

Sustained management is key to what government wants to achieve.

Namibia

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