By Josef Kefas Sheehama
The reason for Namibia’s significant financial losses is the lack of diligence on the part of procurement managers, who should act in the nation’s best interest rather than their narrow-mindedness.
Most of the time, the procurement process is handled professionally. There are several circumstances, though, where this is not the case. How do we assure transparency, and more crucially, how do we handle situations where unethical behaviour occurs? We shouldn’t be surprised that we are egotistical beings. Companies that win government contracts don’t hire more people. Numerous contracts worth a large sum are signed by just one worker. Reading this type of inhumation was hard and hurt. This is a complete moral breakdown. We simply take government contracts for granted and expect them. This evil is deep within the hearts, minds and very essence of mankind itself, and exercised only by a few who are allowed this opportunity to take beyond their needs, and in the process put the very existence of all the rest of Namibians in peril of the total annihilation that their actions make a real possibility. We have turned over our destinies and our very futures to a few who exploit, unashamedly for their selfish gains, at the expense of the rest of Namibians who are considered expendable hindrances to their need for greed.
We are a country of haves and have-nots. Entrepreneurship is one of the biggest contributors to unprincipled unemployment in Namibia. Therefore, this hurts the poor disproportionately, hinders economic development, reduces social economics; and fosters uncertainty, unpredictability, and disrespect for governing institutions and authority. As we have frequently seen over the past few years, months, weeks, and days our existing procurement system needs a radical overhaul. We are busy destroying Namibia’s economy. When we can see the bad in what we do and how it will affect perhaps not ourselves, but our children. The time to act is now, but we have to be unequivocal.
Moreover, as an Independent Economic and Business Researcher, I am going to look at it like this, is this way of arriving at decisions the best by the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) for Namibia? Because you see every decision you make has its cost and benefit. Now if the process leads to this, what do we do to stop this financial obligation from coming back on us to make us poor? The way to solve such problems is due diligence in arriving at decisions, in other words, we must look at decisions very carefully not only for the burden imposed on the present generation but on the future generation. Research indicates that problems in governance can be attributed to poor operations and a lack of due diligence on the part of procurement administrators. An effective government shareholder management model that addresses the key challenges of governance will improve the CPBN and better protect the assets of the government.
The Central Procurement Board of Namibia was established through an Act of parliament of 2015 (Act no. 15 of 2015) to conduct the bidding process on behalf of public entities for the award of procurement contracts. Let’s be brutally honest, if you are in a leadership position and you simply mouth the words instead of living the values, everyone will know the difference. Remember a good example is worth much more than a stack of memos and emails. Public procurement is fundamental to government service delivery as it often involves large sums of money.
Furthermore, procurement officials are important because they ensure that the sector is getting value for money. Proper procurement management ensures fairness, openness, and accountability. Hence, a lack of professional ethics compromises economic transformation. We cannot afford to squander taxpayer’s fund. Therefore, effective economic governance depends on the strength of the institutional framework and the competence of the persons to take bold, practicable and rational decisions. Where the institutional framework is fragile and the decision-makers are incompetent or indifferent, the policies will be worthless. In Namibia, it remains one of the challenges to preventing and combatting unethical conduct on the part of those who hold public office. These are the people who are expected to be the custodians of the values around which the nation could coalesce and hold an organic dialogue about the future. This should be understood as a means of promoting good governance and safeguarding the welfare of the people and the peace of the nation.
Namibia cannot afford to slide deep into an abyss of unethical practices. It destroys the moral fabric of society. A moral crisis is difficult to turn about because the principles of wrong and right, good and bad will have been violated.
This is totally unacceptable by awarding multi-millions to few people whilst more than 60-70% of people are in poverty. This practice kills our economy. This practice increases unemployment and increases the crime rate.
It is therefore, of vital importance that Namibian restructure the economy so that its wealth is shared by all people, Black and White, to ensure that everybody enjoys a decent and rising standard of living. Globally, Namibia has the third highest levels of income inequality, according to the World Bank. For thought-provoking, the richest 10% of the global population currently take home 52% of the income. The poorest half of the global population earns just 8%. On average, an individual from the top 10% will earn $122,100, but an individual from the bottom half will earn just $3,920. And, when it comes to wealth, the gap is even wider. The poorest half of the global population owns just 2% of the global total, while the richest 10% own 76% of all wealth.
In conclusion, Namibia needs an improved set of policies including political, economic and institutional reforms to break the persistent poor leadership. Eliminate public resource mismanagement and ensure quality service delivery and effective administration, strengthen the rules of law as well as the promotion of credibility accountability and transparency.
Once Namibia successfully manages to get rid of the variables associated with poor governance and institutions, Namibia will be in a better position to strengthen and boost its growth performance.
Therefore, the application of good governance and reforms to the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN), should be supported by a thorough understanding of the concept of leadership, a clear demarcation of the roles of key players in the CPBN, holding the board and management accountable.