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Home / Know your civil servant - Johnathan Swartz: Professionalism, work ethic drive public sector

Know your civil servant - Johnathan Swartz: Professionalism, work ethic drive public sector

2021-11-12  Staff Reporter

Know your civil servant - Johnathan Swartz: Professionalism, work ethic drive public sector
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The Ministry of Public Enterprises (MPE) chief public relations officer Johnathan Swartz has cautioned the public to desist from labelling the public sector as an unproductive system, as this connotation may discourage graduates from pursuing careers as civil servants.

According to Swartz, it is generally perceived that services offered in public institutions, especially government ministries, are not always satisfactory. 

This perception is supported by another perception that suggests there is generally a poor work ethic within government institutions, which largely contributes to perceived low productivity.

Swartz attests that, as a young graduate, he was never keen to join the public service because of those negative perceptions around the low work ethic and perceived bureaucratic nature of government workers.

“However, I overlooked the negatives – and looked at the positives of life, and how my experience and skills could spark and impact transformation,’’ Swartz said.

He said, although from an academic and statistical (observation) view this perception may or may not be the truth, it is up to the civil servants to take up responsibility and ownership for their work by demonstrating a positive attitude towards service delivery.

“There is always room for improving service delivery – and the government has several programmes geared to the enhancement of service delivery,” he said.

He, therefore, urged the public relations units within the ministries and State-owned enterprises, with the support of management, to identify communication strategies to enhance constructive success stories within government.

 

Humble Beginnings

Swartz was born in Windhoek and matriculated at Concordia College in 1999. Swartz’s dream was to be part of the entertainment world, and he would be performing on any artistic platform, particularly music.

Swartz possesses multiple media skills, including graphic design. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and Public Relations, obtained from the University of Namibia as well as an Honours Degree in Journalism, Communication and Technology from the Namibia University of Science and Technology.

He is an accredited Public Relations Practitioner by the South African Qualifications Authority, a member of the Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa.

Swartz started his career as an intern at the Namibian Broadcast Corporation television, working as an assistant producer. 

“It is there where my eyes opened up to the new world of electronic broadcasting and the overall production of audio-visual materials for the purpose of informing, educating and entertaining,” Swartz said.

Thereafter, he joined a family video production company, Prime Time Media, led by his late uncle Jackson Swartz. His duties were scriptwriting, camera, directing and video editing.

“I was always told by my late uncle Jackson Swartz ‘Writing is an innate art which needs cultivation to perfect on it’,” he said.

 

The Rise

In 2012, Swartz joined the National Youth Service as the public relations officer. His duties were to do internal and external communications, which included designing on programmes such as Photoshop/InDesign and creating PowerPoint presentations, writing speeches, maintaining media relations, stakeholder engagements, events management, photography – and day-to-day administrative tasks.

In 2016, Swartz joined the Ministry of Public Enterprises as the chief public relations officer. The ministry is the regulator of all State-owned enterprises in Namibia. It was established in March 2015 with the mandate to position Namibia’s key public enterprises to play their meaningful role in the country’s developmental agenda as per the promulgated Public Enterprises Governance Act, (Act no.1 of 2019).

Swartz is serving as the head of the communication department. His duties are to manage and head a unit in the office of the executive director.

Swartz is also responsible for photography, speech writing, events management, media monitoring, layout and design (Photoshop/InDesign and PowerPoint), stakeholder engagement, website master, report writing, presentations, conducting Customer satisfaction surveys, branding, communication and PR strategies, among others.

Swartz said his skills and work experience, coupled with expertise and knowledge, have helped in managing the communication of acceptance towards how public enterprises perceive the ministry to a more active and professional shareholder ministry.

 

Job Satisfaction

According to Swartz, what he found satisfying about his current duties is the aspect of engagement, creating networking platforms between the ministry and its key stakeholders.

“I was once told that your network is your net worth,” he said. 

Internally, as a communications expert, Swartz said his position is a conduit of support to all directorates.

“For instance, if human resources want to inform and educate their employees on various human resources issues, the public relations unit will, in collaboration with human resources, find efficient communication mediums and methods of communicating to its staff,” he clarifies.

When asked to point out some work-related accomplishments or memorable moments he is proud of as a public servant, Swartz points out the Public Enterprises Performance Management Stakeholder Engagement Conference held in November 2019 as one of the major achievements of the ministry.

He said the well-attended conference was one of the platforms where the stakeholders have to discuss and deliberate on designing the Public Enterprises Performance Management framework and system for the ministry to monitor the institution performance. 

Other achievements include the development and administration of a stakeholders’ satisfaction survey. 

Swartz said the survey is administered every second year, assisting the ministry to position itself based on statistical data from its key stakeholders.

He also points out the crafting of the Customer Service Charter in 2018 and the ministry’s involvement in distribution to various events and offices as another highlight of his ministry’s accomplishments.

With a background in layout and design, Swartz said his department has also been producing quarterly newsletters as a tool for communicating with internal and external stakeholders.

 “The revamping of the website and content refreshing is also a memorable moment; now, our stakeholders and the general public can visit us on the website: www.mpe.gov.na or our social media Facebook account: Ministry of Public Enterprises,” Swartz said.


2021-11-12  Staff Reporter

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