Christopher Sitwala Muhapi works as a senior information officer in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT). He is the head of the government information function in the Otjozondjupa region, and based at the regional capital, Otjiwarongo.
He was born and raised in the Zambezi region at Ibbu village. He completed grade 12 at the Caprivi Secondary School in Katima Mulilo in 1995. In 1996, he enrolled for a degree in financial accounting at the Polytechnic of Namibia, now Namibia University of Science and Technology.
However, fate had other plans for him. Just a year into his studies, he was awarded a scholarship to study journalism at Wuhan University in China.
After grappling with the Chinese language and culture, which he eventually managed to grasp, he obtained his journalism degree in 2001. In 2008, he returned to China on another scholarship to study for a master’s degree in communication.
In March 2004, Muhapi joined the then Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, now MICT, as a media officer in Windhoek.
“Working for the government was always not my dream. But from doing my internship at the ministry of information, and seeing how engaging the job was with the general public, I developed love and passion to serve people,” he said.
“As the head of the ministry’s office in Otjozondjupa, I am responsible for overseeing its functions by ensuring that its activities are undertaken in the region to meet annual and quarterly plans.
I also ensure that the budget of the regional office is aligned with annual plans, and that procurement is done correctly. It is also my responsibility to make sure that staff members of the regional office adhere to the Public Service Act at all times in terms of work ethics,” Muhapi added.
He noted that his expertise in media and communication fits in well with the mandate of the MICT.
“My expertise in communications is beneficial to the public service in terms of service delivery. Since the ministry is mandated with information dissemination, one needs to have communication expertise to be able to effectively work with different people from different cultural backgrounds. Knowledge on how to handle different cross-cultural issues is crucial,” he explained.
Muhapi is a highly trained media and communications professional. He is well-versed and certified in software & data processing, multimedia & web design technology, CorelDraw suite and Adobe PageMaker.
As a result, he was given a huge responsibility to establish the ministerial multi-purpose community centres in the regions in Namibia. The centres were established to improve access to information in the country, especially in rural communities.
“I successfully implemented the ministerial multipurpose community centres in the 14 regions. As part of the project, I trained volunteers on how to utilise information technology equipment such as video cameras, to do video productions, news gathering and writing, on video editing software, digital still cameras, computers and PA systems,” he continued.
In 2018, he conducted a feasibility study on mobile network coverage, as well as television and radio coverage in the Otjozondjupa region. “After compiling the study report, I organised a meeting to discuss the outcome of the report with MTC, NBC (Namibian Broadcasting Corporation), MICT and the Otjozondjupa regional council. The outcome of the report and the meeting saw the construction of four MTC towers in the Tsumkwe constituency to bridge the network gap between rural and urban areas.”
Muhapi is a proud civil servant, and happy to continue providing public services directly to the citizenry.
“I like sharing information with the general public on government programmes and policies to better educate them because knowledge is power. The information gap between urban and rural areas needs to be narrowed. Thus, the MICT regional offices were created to decentralise to effectively disseminate information,” he said about his love for being a public servant.
Being an honourable public servant, Muhapi is against the general sentiment that public servants are unproductive and inefficient.
“I am aware of the misconception, but I do not agree with it. Many people do not understand the functions of government. Most people do not want to ask for clarity when it comes to government programmes and projects. For example, when one encounters a bad experience with an individual, that person concludes that all public servants are the same, which is not the case,” he stressed.
He feels it is beneficial to work for the government. Hence, he encourages anyone to try carving out a career in the public service.
“There are many opportunities for working for the government, such as financial assistance towards studies, sponsorship opportunities to study abroad, skills development programmes offered through different bilateral agreements, and many more benefits,” he observed.
As for how long he plans to work in government, Muhapi said “I will serve in public service as long as I can. But I believe whether as a public servant or private sector employee, we should always aim to serve our nation to be part of nation-building and development.”