Negative public perceptions not good for parastatals

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Minister of Public Enterprise Leon Jooste says he would not oppose any chief executive officer serving on various boards: “I want to inspire you to also tap into each other’s knowledge, experience and skills.”

He said there is no doubt that CEOs will play an important role in accelerating the development of the country and the successful implementation of the Harambee Prosperity Plan.

According to Jooste, the negative perception of public enterprises in Namibia is causing enormous problems and must be put to bed. A recent advertisement for the recruitment of board members and various other positions for CEOs to fill positions at public enterprises, proved disappointing as very few applications were received.

“We feel very strongly that we need to appoint the best possible people to boards,” Jooste said, adding that he was disappointed with the outcome of the recent job hunt for CEOs and board members. “As there are currently more than 500 serving board members, the response from advertisements were less than that.”

He said he has explained to the media why the constant negative publicity really damages public enterprises. “People forget public enterprises, like Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Air Namibia and the many others, are a brand and every time there is a negative publicity, it damages the brand. I don’t blame the media, but us.

“We must take responsibility for that. If some of the negative things are true, then yes the public unfortunately must know about it. So, if there are some negative stories come to as the ministry, so it will be more powerful than if we react to a negative report, as the ministry rather than you trying to defend your own negative report,” he said.

During a question and answer session at the recent launched Public Enterprise and Chief Executive Officer Forum, Jooste said: “I think there is a wealth of knowledge and experience among yourselves. Sometimes not everybody knows everything, so when you get stuck in a situation, like when you are in negotiations with the unions, you must be able to consult with your colleagues and ask for solutions to tap into answers on particular issues. I think we must complement each other.”

He said a chairman’s forum would follow soon, as a wealth of knowledge is locked up in these leaders and must be tapped and shared to enhance economic growth. Jooste said the success of the Harambee Prosperity Plan depends on the successful execution of all the pillars of the plan, namely social development, effective governance and service delivery, economic and infrastructure development.

“Time is of the essence and I urge you to work diligently and to propose solutions that the nation will be proud of.” He said the parliamentary committee suggested that a Forum should be created that will provide an opportunity for CEOs to communicate with various stakeholders, including the Parliamentary Committee on Public Accounts, the Office of the Auditor-General, as well as the Ministry of Public Enterprises.

“The idea was that a platform should be created where representatives of CEO’s and chairpersons of public enterprises could be engaged on several topics, without having to invite all the 97 public enterprises”

He said an expectation was created that there would be improved communication between the various stakeholders, while the CEOs will also be provided with a platform to share their views and establish a formal structure through which stakeholders can engage the public enterprises’ accounting officers.

“My ministry will make use of these forums to communicate and engage the accounting officers responsible for public enterprises in order to deal with the challenges of governance, in particular, and to ensure that we move the Harambee Prosperity Plan forward”, Jooste said.