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Letter - Public service not a safe house for unethical individuals

2020-09-18  Staff Reporter

Letter - Public service not a safe house for unethical individuals
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It is no secret that the public service is confronted with massive unethical issues. This is a crisis in most, if not all African states. Public sector employees (civil servants) not being mindful of how they conduct themselves, especially, during engagements with the public, is now the norm. 
It concerns me that we, yes we, civil servants can be extremely discourteous when rendering service to our communities. I am convinced that we all have experienced unfavourable treatment from civil servants. Be it telephonically, in person while visiting an office or have heard of instances related to the matter. I am aware that both the private and public sectors experience their fair share of challenges and I admit that working for the public service can be overwhelming. However, we all knew what we were getting ourselves into; the main objective is to serve the public. Some staff members even took legal oaths to render services. 

Some ministries, parastatals, agencies and local authorities are extremely out of line and need urgent intervention. In Namibia, addressing the issue of bad attitude in public service is not prioritized. Clearly, ethics in public institutions should be enforced. The question is, how did we get to this point, and how can we make this right? 
Service rendering has become a dreadful activity to most employees. Some even go as far as insulting community members who visit their offices or are simply not helpful. The paradigm shift that occurred from public administration to public management requires a change in mindset to assist with the provision of sustainable cost-effective, efficient, ethical and affordable services. The paradigm shift narrative entails borrowing strategies from the private sector to implement in the public sector; ethics is one of the crucial elements. Yes, the private sector is known for their easy-going and friendly service rendering. Why not learn from them? With the new public management approaches, employees are given power to manage. Looking at the attitude of the current public service staff members, does that mean that micromanagement should be considered in public service? And to what extent?

Top management must identify platforms to empower their institutions. Bad service provision in government institutions is a tradition, and the effects are costly. Even the young professionals are adapting to the unethical culture. It is imperative that training and development officials research training courses to be implemented. These training programmes should be compulsory and are to be rated. The era of mediocre public service rendering is over. We should take charge of our institutions and prioritise smooth service rendering. 
The idea is not to point fingers, nor stir conflict. Again, public service is not a safe house for unethical individuals. 
In the final analysis, I must say that tertiary institutions should continue to equally equip and partake in shaping students into better individuals and prepare them to be ethical employees or employers. 

2020-09-18  Staff Reporter

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