Civil servants need to perform or be cut

Do the people employed in the civil service who treat the public so poorly understand that jobs are scarce and precious? Right now, a job is a valuable commodity. Many people who have endured salary cuts or retrenchments or bankruptcy of their employers are desperate for jobs. Some of those sitting at home unemployed have more skills than many standing behind ministry counters or sitting at agency desks. People who need work would give a lot to replace them. Civil servants need to know that they must do their jobs or be retrenched to save money. The civil service wage bill is too high. It is slowly strangling Namibia.

The government should take a deep political breath and announce that the civil service will be trimmed by 20 percent. Only those who perform will keep their posts. That will change public service delivery completely. Sometimes people only care about reality when it knocks on their door.

The country has no money to spare and in fact, is borrowing above what is reasonable. The debts have locked Namibia into an untenable position. The economy is teetering on the edge of financial disaster. Cuts are needed and the civil service wage bill is too high and unsustainable. This has been the case for decades. Now, however, things are critical. Let us face reality, civil service jobs must be cut substantially. Those in previously ‘assured’ jobs, must wake up. Nothing lasts forever.

The entitled, bored, disinterested, civil servants behind counters and in offices must be put on notice that 2 out of 10 of them will go by June 1, 2021. More will go later if savings targets are not met.

The government must pre-empt the IMF’s arrival and their first cutting target (government workers) and put a plan in place to trim the fat. Not all civil servants underperform. There are those who do their work as required. The diamonds must be sorted from the sand and grit.

This is a great time to look at corruption in national and local government offices. Find those who charge side costs to the public for services they are already paid to render. Cut them out as casualties in a government reduction in force plan.

Let us have all people who serve the public wear name tags as a condition of employment. The public must be able to complain about poor service using the name of the perpetrator. Put cameras in government offices and record who is naughty and who is nice. Those who fall short must get time and retraining to see if they can change their ways. But, if not, cut them out.

Cut 200 civil servant jobs out of 1000. Then, the government must offer assistance to those losing their jobs. That is better than disaster striking where Namibia cannot pay anyone on time.

One reads about countries where police have not been paid in years. These cops earn their money by stealing from the people via corruption. There are countries that experience coup d’etats where the army had not been paid in months. There are countries whose civil servants earn pennies and do not receive that low amount for years. One can understand why their bureaucracies do not work and their prospects are poor.

In Namibia what is our excuse? We pay our inflated wage bill without fail, every month. And yet, those getting their money in full, on time, are not performing. They act as if their jobs are untouchable. They must learn that they are not.

It is politically incorrect to push for civil service job cuts. But a collective government action that helps Namibia survive economically, must be taken.

Civil servants out there, be on notice. Don’t pretend that unemployment isn’t spreading like a second pandemic in Namibia. Pay attention and value your job. Deliver services and perform at a high level while you still can.

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