Want some insight in Namibian politics? I am no expert but have 16 years (1995-2011) of writing on Namibian politics in The Namibian newspaper and can probably offer you a bit more than you know about the who's who in the Namibian political zoo. You will also find a few articles commenting on other issues of concern in the country. Hope you find it interesting. - Christof

Monday, January 30, 2012

Is It Failure In Planning Or Just Plain Corruption?

THERE is a saying which goes: if you fail to plan, you actually plan to fail.

Many of the events currently taking place in Namibia can be associated with that saying. What immediately comes to mind are the challenges facing our education system and the devastating impact the annual floods have on people in the North.
It is sad for me to start the year’s first column on such pessimistic note but it is as much my duty to point out the wrongs as it is to give praise where it is due.
Floods have hit the northern parts of Namibia for the past several years and, and at least on two occasions, the President declared emergencies. Last year, several people drowned.
Yet, nothing effective has been done since the last floods to prepare for this rainy season.
Hardly any flood relief preparations were undertaken, apart from setting up relocation centres for people left homeless by floodwater.
It is a fact that when a natural disaster like a flood hits, people need immediate lifesaving assistance – emergency shelter, clean water and food.
However, such needs change as soon as the floods have receded and the people seek longer-term assistance to rebuild their lives, and plan a better future for their families. It may seem obvious, but all too often this transition is badly mishandled, putting lives in jeopardy – a situation which repeats itself within a few months.
So why did the Government not do something tangible to prevent this seemingly avoidable human suffering? Why would they permit people to continue living ‘in the water’?
My experience with some corrupt senior civil servants has taught me that they are either waiting or are in the process of setting up companies through links to give one another tenders that will inevitably not be completed.
Some of the senior civil servants in key positions are on record that they do not release funds for projects in regions until they are sure that there are people they can connect with to get kickbacks or to benefit in another form.
That is why some major tenders are advertised and prospective applicants given two to three days to put in bids. The winners of the tenders are already lined up!
In the case of the floods, there is a plethora of laws and regulations that apparently must be set up before work is done. The red tape is used to not only ensnare development but also delay it until such time that funds are redirected for individual gain at the expense of the people.
What is clearly lacking is pressure from the top.
Our leaders need to set very clear goals for the senior managers who have become too big for their shoes. There is no effective monitoring while accountability lacks in many of the projects we are undertaking.
In the past month or so, when our politicians went ‘home’ to rest, some senior officials were wheeling and dealing. By the time the politicians returned to office, crucial decisions had already been made and millions redirected towards cronies we all know will never deliver on promises made in tenders.
And by the time politicians realise their mistakes and want to cancel the tenders, Government must pay millions to get rid of such tenderers.
The situation people find themselves in in the North is the direct result of ineffective management coupled with the selfishness of corrupt individuals.
We are told about a master plan for Oshakati that Cabinet had approved last year and which needs to be implemented.
If all the companies were already in place and those earmarked for ‘public-private partnerships’ were organised, ‘cadre empowerment’ would have been in full swing and some token work already underway by now.
But because those who want to benefit are still fighting it out for the Neckartal millions, their attention is diverted from the North and so the masses continue to suffer.