Enhancing Accountability in Public – Private Partnership in Namibia

Ndimudule Laina Ndeumane
Public Analyst

Public–private partnerships in Namibia are one features that are growing economic landscape since independence was declared in the 1990s.

Despite the boom in mining industry ventures, the fiscal deficit is growing and living standards remain inadequate in localized areas, PPPs are increasingly sought after for wider social objectives. There is still a degree of resistance to private sector involvement in public services, with concerns over how employment would be affected and how black and gender empowerment could be incorporated into such schemes. Namibia has little in the way of dedicated public–private partnership policy framework.

Like many other developing countries has resorted to the use of Public- Private Partnerships (PPPs) as a strategy to deal with its deeply rooted socio-economic, political, fiscal and societal problems. Given the growing value of commitment to infrastructure development through PPPs there has been increased attention to issues concerning the accountability of PPPs as developmental projects, PPPs becomes joint responsibility in practice, with no-one ultimately being held accountable the problem of accountability must be addressed. Evidence shows that PPPs work well where there is commitment and trust between the government and participating enterprises, fact that the head of state and relevant Ministry advocates that the partnership be centered on trust and on the notion of two parties coming together to harness the diverse interest of the nation for efficient delivery is evidence of the need for close and mutually beneficially collaborations in Public- Private partnerships.

Accountability perspectives in PPPs

Accountability is a complex, elusive and contested issue that can be approached in different ways, depending on the role, institutional context era and political perspectives. Therefore, accountability as the management of expectations provides a practical and realistic approach to understand accountability in PPPs, in the same vein the importance of integrity and moral responsibility in the performance of public duty makes the final dimension of accountability.

Given the existing challenges to accountabilities in PPPs, there is no doubt that there is a need to enhance, among the numerous technique’s accountability in PPPs, clarifying accountability relations, monitoring structures, transparency, ethical standards, risk transfer and intuitional reforms. Public- Private partnership bring in different stakeholders with varying interest, resulting in the blurring of public and private sector responsibilities to the extent that shared accountability may result in general irresponsibility from all involved if not checked. Therefore, understanding the different accountability relations and ensuring that all are working properly and reinforcing one another marks a positive step, this will provide insight on those responsible for providing accountability. In general terms, the public and private partners, elected official, public officials and the government are key agents responsible for accountability in the PPPs. Public and Private partners should understand each other’s
needs and objectives, work together in an atmosphere of trust, mutual collaboration, shared responsibility and transparency.

Citizens, government officials, Parliament, the electorate, the courts, tax payers, shareholders and local community are too the principals in the PPPs. Elected officials, politicians and administrators are obliged to explain to the public how they are carrying out the PPP responsibility. In this respect, the public officials engaged in PPPs are accountable to their government departments.

In conclusions, several measures should be taken to ensure that there is a common understanding among the public and private parties to deliver services with integrity. One way might be to conduct ethics seminars and workshops at which contracting officials are inculcated with a sense of a moral obligation to use their skills, expertise, rules and codes of ethics to meet the goals of the partnership. There should also be a general awareness among members of the partnership that non- compliances with the codes of PPPs will lead to sanctions. In essence, accountability in PPPs would prevent corruption, enhance effectiveness, control the abuse and misuse of public authority, promote adherence to the role of law and ensure fair and equal treatment in PPPs. Above all, the political leadership need to live up to its power of speech, exercise political will, promote ethics and values through relentless commitment to PPPs at national and global level.

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