Windhoek Government has responded to public criticism that the targets contained in some ministers’ performance agreements are too low and without clear measurable goals. The agreements were made public late last week and the public has had its say on the contents, with some ministers proposing to improve specific things, such as access to water services, by a paltry one percent. Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa Amadhila, speaking exclusively to New Era at Eros Airport yesterday, explained that the targets were set relatively low because these contracts were for six months only. The PM, however, conceded that if Namibia is to reach its goal of becoming an industrialised nation by 2030, ministers’ targets should be increased from current levels in the coming years. “We need to remember that these agreements are only in place for six months, so for a start it is sufficient, but we have to up our commitment if we are to reach Vision 2030,” Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said, minutes after seeing off President Hage Geingob, who jetted off to Ethiopia for an African Union summit. “Going forward we will continue building capacity and reviewing the system to perfect it, based on our own experiences.” The Office of the Prime Minister last Friday made public the performance agreements of ministers, signed in October last year. Some of the targets that have come under heavy scrutiny include Fisheries Minister Bernhardt Esau’s commitment to meet an annual target of two percent increase in the volume of export, as well as Education Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s target to reduce the dropout rate at schools by one percent. The agreements are valid from October 1, 2015 to March 31 this year. Nampa reported this week that ministers are expected to submit their performance reviews by the end of this month. The PM said ministers’ work would become easier if their ministries fully implement their performance management systems. “The performance agreements of the ministers and permanent secretaries are complimentary, because the minister supervises and gives direction, while the permanent secretaries are the heads of administration, which should ensure that the commitments of the minister are implemented,” she explained. “Since the staff are the ones that do the actual work, it is crucial that everyone is held accountable through the performance management system.” She explained that ministers were consulted during the formulation of the performance agreements and that the set targets were drawn from government’s medium-term plans. “These targets are taken from the medium-term plans so that government can hold to account each ministry,” she said. Some targets might be a challenge to attain, because of the duration of the agreements, she conceded. During the formulation of the contracts, government roped in executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Dr Carlos Lopes to discuss the issue of performance contracts with ministers. Lopes said at the time that performance contracts are - in the final analysis - about the enhancement of leadership, facilitating team-building and striving to entrench a culture of results. McHenry Venaani, the leader of the official opposition, yesterday commended Geingob for implementing the performance agreement system, but highlighted the vague nature of some minister’s contracts. He said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s own targets - as contained in her contract - are very low. “The targets of the PM are too low, especially when considering that she is the chief coordinator of government business. That in itself should be a key benchmark,” he said. “The agreements are merely a concoction of performance proposals, of which some do not even make sense.” Venaani said addressing the bloated public service and controlling the wage bill should have been some of the PM’s primary targets. “Most of the public spending goes to salaries instead of capital projects,” he said. He further said the plans of ministries, such as justice, labour, higher education and poverty alleviation are vague, because they do not “have measurable targets”. “The agreement of the minister of labour does not even state how many jobs government must create within a certain period. This can be set by stipulating the number of jobs that must be created through every State-funded project,” he said. Venaani also wanted to know what punitive measures, if any, are in place if ministers fail to meet their targets. “If people enter into agreement and they fail to meet their targets there should be repercussions. Will they be reshuffled or removed? All these things are not clear,” he said. Presidential press secretary Albertus Aochamub told New Era on Sunday that ministers who fail to meet their performance targets risk being reassignedwhile top performers will be rewarded.
New Era Reporter
2016-01-29 09:23:15 3 years ago