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This Week In The Khuta – It pays to be incompetent

Since Government has ruled out the privatisation of struggling state owned enterprises (SOE), there is an urgent need for our political leaders to prove to the public that they are indeed serious about improving service delivery and efficiency in the public sector.
It goes without saying that as government seeks to cap expenditure in the next three years because of a lack of fiscal space, it is important that SOE should be run efficiently and where possible, make a profit to reduce their dependence on state bailouts.
The country will be better off if the budget can be used to fund or support projects aimed at  fighting poverty and building decent accommodation for the majority of our people who live in squalid conditions across the country. I strongly object to the perennial bailing out of companies that can otherwise operate profitably if the right structures and personnel are put in place.
Why should Air Namibia be allowed to be reckless and be rewarded with a bailout year in year out? Why is it that the national airline, our supposedly national beacon, does not have a managing director for over two years? What does this say about the seriousness of the appointing authority in enabling Air Namibia to be the best regional airline that it can be, all things being equal?
Reading this week about the drama surrounding the re-appointment of the Air Namibia board by the Minister of Transport and Works, I felt that government had missed a great opportunity of sending a strong message that non-performance in the public sector will not be tolerated any more.
I have never understood why people that have failed dismally continue to be re-appointed or are appointed to several parastatal boards. If we are serious about turning around the fortunes of these entities, and if we say a board is responsible for corporate direction, are we not then contradicting ourselves by appointing the same failed people to many boards? What is worse and very wrong is that most of these people do not even have the technical know-how needed for them to be useful on these boards.
For some strange reason, why do I feel that it pays to be incompetent? Why is that Government keeps recycling dead wood all the time instead of showing the door to the people who have failed us.
I was excited when Government introduced performance management contracts for SOE boards and managers because I thought that was an indication that government was serious about getting rid of people who are sleeping on the job. But save for a few individuals, noticeably Sam Beukes who nearly ran Namcor to the ground and was deservedly shown the door, very few people have been booted for their incompetence. What I see is people being rewarded for their incompetence and the drama surrounding the re-appointment of the Air Namibia board is a classic example of that.
On a somewhat brighter note, and at the risk of being called a lunatic, I am encouraged by the efforts of the NBC director general. Despite what other people might think of the man, I believe he is trying to show us that any organisation, given the right leaders, can be run successfully. It is still early days yet, but if we can all give him our support, I see Albertus Aochamub succeeding where others wavered.

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