Dr Lisho Mundia is one of the highly skilled individuals working in the Namibian public service. He is a seasoned executive, academician, entrepreneur and author with about 20 years of working experience, including 10 years in education, research and training.
He worked for various industries ranging from higher education, utility, mining and local authority, making him highly relevant to the transdisciplinary research agenda.
Dr Mundia joined the public service in July 2017.
He was working for the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), as a lecturer and programme coordinator before joining the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation (MHETI).
It was due to his unique expertise in transdisciplinary research that he was persuaded to join the newly established ministry.
“To be honest, I never dreamed of working for the government. The reality came after I was approached to apply for the position of director of research and innovation under the newly established MHETI, which was created in 2015. Pressure increased as the job was beyond national responsibility, but included representing Namibia on bilateral and multilateral high-level meetings,” Mundia said about how he added up joining the civil service.
“My job responsibilities include personnel involved at management level with the determination and execution of policy, organisation, financing, personnel provisioning and utilisation; the determination of procedures and control; the making of decisions and liaison in respect of certain functional activities.
“Most importantly, advise the executive director, the deputy minister and minister on policies and matters related to research, science, technology and innovation,” he said.
The most challenging part of his work, Mundia said “is convincing and explaining to the politicians to understand the value-chain involved or hidden into research, science, technology and innovation agenda. The painful one is watching policies you initiated and supported being mis-implemented.” However, he derives satisfaction from the knowledge that he is serving the general public.
Mundia said the core responsibilities of governments everywhere in the world are to create a conducive environment for their citizens. This is done by creating laws, policies and instituting good governance practices, procedures and structures in place.
“As such, the best satisfaction about my job is initiating and reviewing policies, acts of parliaments, good governance practices, procedures and structures within our institutions.”
“The work of government employees like myself impacts the lives of every citizen and the lives of people around the world. We engage in high impactful work, such as initiating the introducing acts of parliaments, policies and instituting good governance practices, procedures and structures which create a conducive environment for the Namibian citizens and the world at large.”
Mundia’s work experience was built on the back of an impressive academic background that includes postgraduate qualifications in management, Geographical Information Science, Land Management and Measuring as well as a PhD in Geography.
He also served as one of the first council members of Space Science under the National Commission on Research Science & Technology (NCRST), a committee member of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure under the Namibia Statistics Agency and a Land Tribunal Committee member under the Ministry of Land Reform.
Currently, he serves as an advisory board member of the Southern African Innovation Support Programme, an advisory board member of the Multidisciplinary Research Centre of the University of Namibia.
With such multidisciplinary expertise, more especially in research, science, technology and innovation RSTI, Dr Mundia is a valuable asset to the Namibian public service.
“To be able to perform in government, you should be an expert in what you are recruited to perform. On that note, as an academician and researcher who worked in the higher education environment before, my expertise beneficial to the public service and Namibia at large are enormous, as I understand the key pillars of our nation on the RSTI agenda, which I serve the nation on,” he said.
Despite having been a civil servant for just over years, Mundia say is proud of his accomplishments so far.
Talking about his achievements as a civil servant, he singled out when he managed to convince the higher education minister about the values of RSTI for Namibia.
“The recognition of my staff members, by firstly lobbying them to understand the work culture and ethics culture I brought to the directorate. Collectively, we have then worked together to see the launch of the National Space Science and Technology, and the Revised National Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, among others,” he said.
While Mundia is not overly concerned about the misconception that public servants are unproductive and inefficient, he noted that government institutions can do more to improve public service delivery.
He emphasised that “Though the stereotype could originate from a seed of truth, we shouldn’t ignore the transformation our government has and continue to undergo. These include integrating citizens into the policy-making process, online platforms that make public information accessible to citizens to widen participation.
“Our ministry, for example, has stretched itself to work with its institutions such as NCRST, NUST, University of Namibia, and Namibia Training Authority to create and support coaching workshops, innovation platforms, research programmes, among others.”
At the moment, Mundia is content with being a public servant. “I can’t tell how long I will serve in the public service. I believe the future is endless for anyone. I could be heading back into academics somewhere in this world or I could be working for a multinational organisation, I will see,” he added.
However, on top of his wish list is to see the promulgation of the Research, Science, Technology and Innovation Bill, “coupled with the re-institution of the executive appointments of the NCRST for the best interest of our youth. Also, to see the adoption of the Academy of Science of Namibia sees the green light as contained in the SADC Science, Technology and Innovation protocol.”