NEF calls for reversal on civil servants’ private business

Home Business NEF calls for reversal on civil servants’ private business


Saying it is “highly concerned” about the recent decision to lift a three-year ban on civil servants owning private businesses and competing for state contracts, the Namibia Employers’ Federation (NEF) has called on President Hage Geingob to reverse this decision without delay, before irreparable damage is done.

“Civil servants are paid by the taxpayer and allowing them to have their own private enterprises is tantamount to a free hand for corruption,” warned the NEF in a statement released yesterday.

The NEF said there are two reasons for their concern. The first is that government officials will often have “insider” information with respect to the contents, conditions and budgeted figures when tenders are being prepared. This, said the NEF, may easily lead to price rigging and thus tenders being awarded on the basis of such information, even if the tender board is unaware of the behind-the-scenes activities.

“There are already ample instances where front persons or briefcase companies are used to hide who is behind a company. Thus it would be very easy for a civil servant to use friends, buddies and cronies to ‘front’ for his/her company,” said the NEF.
The second reason, said the NEF, is that there will be a tendency to run the private enterprise during office hours and thus steal from the poor taxpayer.

“Remember that to use even a paper clip of the business owner (in this case the people of Namibia) is stealing. How many civil servants will be making phone calls for private purposes? How many will be ‘popping out’ to attend to their business? Ten minutes here, half an hour here, half an hour there?” asked NEF.

“We are disappointed at this decision of the president which flies directly in the face of his anti-corruption statements and calls for action,” added the NEF.

“We understand that the prime minister is planning a set of rules and regulations to govern such business activities, but we are sad to state that we have no faith in the enforcement of such rules, however comprehensive they might be,” continued the statement.

Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), Tarah Shaanika, also recently called for a review of Cabinet’s decision to allow civil servants to own private businesses.

In a media statement Shaanika criticised the decision, saying it seems to suggest that civil servants can run private businesses while in the employment of the State without adequate regulations for their involvement.

“We believe that civil servants’ direct involvement in private businesses may result in serious conflict of interest, especially when the businesses in which they are involved do business with the State,” charged Shaanika.

It was recently reported that the Public Service Commission had introduced ways to regulate the businesses of state employees, instead of imposing an outright ban.
Government banned civil servants from running private businesses in 2012 after it asked PricewaterhouseCoopers to do an audit to give a clear picture of government employees doing side-businesses, and to make recommendations thereafter. The audit was completed last year, and found that civil servants are increasingly engaging in private business.