President Hage Geingob has reminded governors that their duty in the regions is to defend government programmes but not to act as “petitioners” who are there to complain about what the central government has done or not done.
Geingob raised this sentiment during a virtual conference with all 14 regional governors last Friday.
“As regional governors, you should understand your roles, and also the rationale why you now reside in the Office of the President.”
Geingob said a governor is a representative of the President and central government in the region; he is the political head of the region.
In that capacity, he said the regional governor acts as a link between the central government, the regional council, local authorities and traditional leaders.
He emphasised in his State of the Nation Address (Sona) last month that development should be accelerated and the needs of citizens should enjoy urgent priority.
Hence, Geingob said it is the governors’ task in the regions, to listen and to act on demands from the population. Of course, Geingob said government is aware of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is an independent intervening variable, and has resulted in a global economic downturn. “We are also aware of the devastating drought that caused havoc on the farming sector which is the livelihood of the majority of Namibians,” said the head of state. He said the combination of economic downturn, drought, and Covid-19, have negatively impacted the growth of the Namibian economy. This scenario, he said has exacerbated the resultant growing numbers of the unemployed, especially among the country’s youth. “I am confident that if we hold hands and mobilise stakeholders within our regions to come together through a unified and patriotic effort, we will be able to overcome the challenge posed by Covid-19, in order to maintain progress in our objective to bring about shared national prosperity,” he said. “I have said repeatedly that we must do more with less. Resources are scarce and you are aware that we introduced a fiscal consolidation strategy, which delivered the desired results,” Geingob told the governors. Regrettably, he said Covid-19 has altered the country’s path and gains, and as such, governors are compelled to work harder and more creatively. Furthermore, he informed them the recruitment of staff for their offices such as executive directors, will be affected by the current financial constraints. Therefore, he said staff, within government, would be seconded to those offices to serve as administrators instead of advisors. “We have noted that in most instances, political advisors, were not doing anything. Therefore, you will get bureaucrats as your advisors,” Geingob assured governors.
Similarly, governors were told the Minister in the Presidency, Christine ?Hoebes, is their designated person to channel their reports in a timely manner. “As representatives of government in the regions, it is expected that you remain and work in your duty stations, which is the region to which each one of you have been assigned,” he said. “Fruitless travel to Windhoek and other parts of the country is strongly discouraged, which some of you use as an opportunity to request meetings with me,” he added.
He said governors’ movements must be cleared with ?Hoebes, who he has designated as the focal point in the interaction with the President as the appointing authority. “As the most senior officials and representatives of the government, you should deal with problems horizontally by building solid working relations with line-ministries in order to bring tangible changes in the lives of people living in the regions,” Geingob said. He said he and Vice president Nangolo Mbumba have an open-door policy and ready to offer assistance if and when required.
“Challenges must be raised transparently at these levels and the necessary action will be taken.”
The President further told governors to acquaint themselves with government programmes and presidential statements, to work with diligence, and ensure that the work of government is accessible to all the layers in the regions. He concluded by expressing solidarity with the Erongo governor Neville Andre, saying the current situation with regard to Covid-19, has placed an unprecedented level of strain to his office and the region’s inhabitants.
“We express our empathy with the people of Erongo, as we are well aware that if we don’t maintain vigilance and hold hands in fighting this pandemic, similar Covid-19 outbreaks could spread to the rest of the country, and pose a greater national health and economic threat,” Geingob said. “Therefore, let us work together, pull in the same direction and defeat this pandemic so that we can return to the process of building our nation.”