Hooked on serving the public
Kauna Aihuki is one of the patriotic Namibians who decided to serve in the public service, despite the allure of the private sector and development agencies.
She is the deputy director in the Directorate of Planning and Development: Department of Veterans Affairs, under the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs.
Aihuki is a development expert with a Bachelor of Science degree in population and development studies from the University of Namibia, and a Master’s degree in Development Studies from the University of the Free State.
“I completed my studies with funding from NSFAF (Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund), and I, therefore, felt it right to give back to my government,” she observed.
She started her career in the public service in January 2007 as a development planner with the then Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry before moving to the Ministry of Veterans Affairs in 2012.
“I wanted to work in the public service for a few years, after which I could pursue opportunities elsewhere. However, after a short period due to the positive influence of my first supervisor and colleagues, I began to see growth opportunities within the public service sector. Although it was not a dream to stay, I became passionate about public service delivery and being able to make a difference through public development programmes.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for implementing various benefit programmes and projects aimed at addressing the socio-economic needs of the veterans.
“Veterans Affairs is mandated to address the plight of veterans of the national liberation struggle, and ensure that their livelihoods and that of their dependants are improved through deliberate interventions that are aimed at integrating them into the socio-economic mainstream of the country.”
The department has offices in all 14 regions, in line with the government’s decentralisation policy, which is aimed at bringing services closer to the people. Aihuki is tasked with the overall management of these regional offices.
“My responsibilities include the coordination of programmes from the head office (in Windhoek) to the regions, and ensuring uniformity in the implementation of all programmes at all regional offices.
“I, therefore, serve as a linkage between regional and national level planning on veterans’ matters, thereby also ensuring that communication channels between regional representatives and the functional units at the head office are in order. Additionally, I am also responsible for coordinating performance management systems at the departmental level.”
With such a big responsibility on her shoulders, her typical day at the office is quite hectic.
“My day usually begins by checking my daily task itinerary for any pending activity or feedback from the regions. I then proceed to check for any communications that may require my action.
“I would then attend scheduled meetings, or attend to matters as they arise throughout the day. On some days, I would work with the Khomas regional office colleagues, just to get first-hand experience in handling clients to improve our customer service.”
We all have unforgettable moments that we encounter in our work lives, and Aihuki beams with pride about one such occasion.
“The best moment for me was seeing the excitement on a veteran’s face when we handed over a house to him in Okanguati in the Kunene region.
“This beneficiary was living in a deplorable condition, and upon touring his new shelter, could not stop singing praises for the token of appreciation accorded to him by government.
“There are many actually, and being in a social field, my biggest satisfaction comes from seeing our clients leave our office with a smile,” she said.
Aihuki noted that working for the government is unique, “as there are policies and management systems in place to guide staff members in the execution of their duties, and it promotes career growth through the human resources’ development programmes.”
Aihuki was born at Onawa village in the Omusati region, and completed her Grade 12 at St Joseph’s RC High School, Dobra outside Windhoek.
And now that she is hooked on serving in the public service, she cannot think of working anywhere else.
“I intend to retire in the public service to fulfill my desire to serve the nation even in bigger roles. My dream is to one day be in a position to influence social policies that promote participatory community development at grassroots levels”, she stated.
To realise this dream, Aihuki is aspiring to grow further within the public sector, and “I intend on pursuing a senior management development programme to enhance my management skills.”