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Namibian President Blames His Country's Bloated Bureaucracy On Colonialism


In Namibia, President Hifikepunye Pohamba says the country has too many civil servants. He blames the bloated bureaucracy on colonialism, saying that at independence the ruling SWAPO government brought in its own people but could not get rid of those already employed by the colonial government. Addressing his first cabinet meeting of the year, Mr. Pohamba said the country faces inefficiency in the public service, a slow pace of policy implementation and the duplication of duties in the civil service. Namibia faces an uphill battle to trim its civil service, which numbers about 70,000. The government is by far the largest employer in the country and more than half of its total expenditure of about 13 billion Rand pays civil servants' salaries. The World Bank recommends that the figure not be more than 40 percent.

Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is Namibia’s minister of information. Speaking to English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey about the Namibian Civil Service, Ndaitwah said, ”In Namibia when we talk about the civil service, we are including also the police, the army and the nurses. And that is what now brings the total number to 70 thousand. [In] the current situation, of course, our civil service is governed by the Public Service Act. However, if the president has mentioned that our public service is big, [it’s] because it’s true…. The population…is 1.8 million. And then…75 thousand [in the Civil Service] is like one civil servant [on] average…taking care of 25 or 26 people. And so…if it’s very productive, then you can get value from it…. The…delivery…is supposed to be of a high standard.”

Speaking about the president’s plan for the civil servants, she said, “First, the president…is planning to set up an institution…that will provide continuous training with our Namibia Civil Service. Second, the president has also given directives to the secretary [and] to the cabinet to make sure that civil servants…regularly give reports of policy implementation…that are coming from the cabinet. And that is going to be done regularly…. That will make the civil servants…work hard because they have to make sure that the cabinet is regularly informed…as to what has been happening once decisions are taken in the cabinet for whatever program to be put into action.”

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