Jooste’s herculean task

03 July 2015

The Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste faces a huge task of trying to bring order and sanity to the public sector. Analysts were divided when the new ministry focusing on State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) was announced by the new administration.

Some argued that it is folly to expect a single ministry to look after 89 companies in various sectors of the economy.

These people argued that the South African public sector remains a disaster despite the creation of a public enterprises ministry, and they might have a point.

Early indications are that the creation of the Ministry of Public Enterprises was not such a crazy idea after all as we continue to read about gross negligence, incompetence and wastefulness in the public sector.

But that is all set to change after Minister Jooste proposed a raft of changes to the way the State Owned Enterprises appoint their board members, which is a good starting point as the importance of a properly constituted board cannot be overemphasised.

For so long, parastatals have bled government coffers dry with impunity. The lack of accountability and level of wastefulness is rather shocking and the time has come for a complete overhaul.

If the minister gets his way, the appointment of board members will become a transparent process with vacancies advertised in the media. This will enable those with the requisite skills to sit on SOE boards and contribute meaningfully to their development.

Gone will be the current practice were line ministers have carte blanche powers to appoint their “own people” to parastatal boards, a practice that has caused so many problems.

Very few board members can claim to have successfully executed their mandates. Sven Thieme at the Windhoek Country Club and Resort, and Johannes !Gawaxab at Namcor are some of the very few people who have had successful tenures at their respective organisations.

Thieme has successfully changed the fortunes of the previously perennial loss making Windhoek Country Club. The same can be said about !Gawaxab at Namcor. The company is now in the black after it was almost run into the ground.

Where appointments are done on merit and with no ulterior motives, the results on the ground easily show.

We also welcome the proposed changes of limiting disciplinary cases to less than three months. The current practices were executives are suspended indefinitely with full pay without charges being brought against them should never be tolerated.

It is a waste of public resources and goes against good governance.



The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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