New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Know your civil servant - Alfons Witbeen - Deputy director | Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security

Know your civil servant - Alfons Witbeen - Deputy director | Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security

2021-10-22  Staff Reporter

Know your civil servant - Alfons Witbeen - Deputy director | Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security
Top of a Page

National documents with a smile 

ALFONS #Ari-axab Rukeeveni Witbeen, the deputy director in the civil registration division of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration, Safety and Security, has personally vowed to deliver timely registration of vital events such as birth, marriage and death to all citizens as part of the ministry’s commitment. 

The ministry’s mandate is to ensure every Namibian has national documents such as birth and marriage certificates as well as identity cards. 

He revealed that one of the biggest challenges the ministry is facing is children who are not registered, although there are offices in all regions and also hospital-based offices for timely issuing of birth certificates. Additional to this challenge, parents do not bring the right documentation, or they are unable to prove parentage during registration. 

Absent fathers also delay the process of issuing national documents.

Humble Beginnings

Witbeen’s story will inspire many. The 43-year-old was born in Okahandja by Adolfine Witbeen and Festus Paulse. He is the second born of six children: three brothers and two sisters.

Like many children from underprivileged families, Witbeen grew up with his grandmother, Emily Hanases, in a two-bedroom house in Okahandja – and as a child, to remedy the abject poverty, his folks survived from the little money he made from selling empty bottles and scrap metals. 

He also did the odd gig as a caddie at the Okahandja Golf Club. However, on a bad day, the dumpsite at the garden town proved to be a good enough source for a meal, he revealed. 

Witbeen started primary school at Aurora Primary School in 1985 until Grade 3, before moving to the Nau-Aib Primary School for Grade 4. In 1989, he moved to Goas RK School – some 35 kilometres outside Karibib.

He went to Okahandja Secondary School from 1992 to 1999 – and is quick to state that his academic career was not without challenges, which led to him repeating grades 4, 8 and 9. 

“While in Grade 8, I was forced to drop out of school for almost six months, a period during which I was employed as a farmworker. But the hardship and struggle I encountered motivated me to go back to school,” he recalled nostalgically. 

His return to the school grounds was motivated by an unnamed deputy principal at the school, who later offered his mother a job as a domestic worker. 

“My mother is the one who paid for my school fees – and this was done through the deputy principal deducting the amount from her salary,” he said.

Witbeen maintains that failing grades 8 and 9 led to him being in the same class with his younger sister and two cousins but that did not discourage him from continuing with his studies. 

Instead, he channelled his energy into other viable causes at the school, such as serving in the debating society and drama club as well as joining the student movement, the Namibia National Students’ Organisation (Nanso). 

Today, Witbeen holds various qualifications that include a degree in human resources management from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), obtained in 2008; a diploma in paralegal studies from Unam in 2018; a Master’s Degree in Public Policy and Doctorate of Economics (National Development) from Peking University, obtained in 2011 and 2021, respectively. 

Rising Through the Ranks

However, prior to all the academic accolades, Witbeen already displayed his selfless commitment to his country by joining the Namibia Defence Force (NDF) as a soldier in 2000. This, he says, was his first job in the public service. 

“In 2007, I moved to the Ministry of Health and Social Services, where I served as a senior administrative officer for three years, before joining the ministry of education as a chief administrative officer,” he revealed.

The year 2012 saw him joining the ministry of works as a control administrative officer until 2014 when he rose to his current position of deputy director at the Ministry of Home Affairs Immigration, Safety and Security.  

“I have been a public servant for more than 21 years, seven of which are at the management level,” he enthused. 

“My current responsibilities include coordinating the timely registration of vital events such as birth, marriage and death – and to ensure every Namibian has national documents such as birth and marriage certificates, and identity cards,” he said.

Making it Work

Highlighting the importance of education, Witbeen is adamant that his 21 years in the public service and having obtained a PhD have equipped him with the necessary skills to execute his duties at this crucial ministry.  

He further has it that his expertise is beneficial to the ministry, particularly in terms of human resources development.

“What is rewarding about this job is the joy on the faces of clients when they obtain their national documents. It gives me pleasure knowing that this person can now access services such as banking, employment opportunities, education and health facilities, among others,” he said.  

When asked to point out some of the accomplishments at a personal and institutional level, Witbeen stated that his master’s thesis, which he completed in 2011, resulted in the establishment of the Namibian Student Financial Assistance Fund (NSFAF) as a state-owned enterprise, rather than a ministerial department.  

“I was also part of the team that spearheaded the introduction and implementation of the ministry’s E-Birth and E-Death notification systems at health facilities across the regions,” he said. 

Other achievements include the opening of the Rehoboth Sub-regional Office and upgrading it to a category one office that provides ID services to the community as well as facilitating the acquisition of Rosh Pinah office space, which is scheduled to open before the end of this year.

While many may look down on the civil service as a dead-end in terms of career development, Witbeen hails the public service for the various opportunities that it presents, especially in capacity building.  

“Government offers attractive benefits and has well-crafted policies that serve as a roadmap for government employees to execute their duties,” he said.

The long-serving government employee disagrees with the notion that government services are bad, and civil servants are unproductive and ineffective, citing that there are civil servants who are dedicated and working hard to attain the government’s goals. 

“I wish to add that services at the Ministry of Home Affairs Immigration, Safety and Security have improved drastically; for example, passports take less than five working days and identification cards will also follow suit,” he said. 

Witbeen has committed his remaining 17 years before retirement to the public service as a token of appreciation for all the opportunities that the government accorded to him, especially to further his studies.

2021-10-22  Staff Reporter

Share on social media
Bottom of a page