WALVIS BAY - Civil servants who are unpatriotic and derelict in their duties are the worst enemies of development in Namibia as they derail efforts to woo investors through unnecessary bureaucracy that delays investment opportunities.
This sentiment was expressed by the Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya, who was speaking at the official opening of the 12th edition of the Erongo Trade Expo that started yesterday in Walvis Bay.
Tweya said civil servants who do not carry out their responsibilities as they should are putting development and job creation efforts for Namibians at risk with their unpatriotic acts.
But he said such civil servants cannot entirely be blamed for their behaviour as those in charge of such erring institutions are letting them run them without supervision and on their own.
“It is painful to see that all government’s efforts to attract investors are derailed. In reality we need investors to create jobs and assist government in alleviating poverty. We paint a very positive, business-friendly country to the world. However, investors are faced with many challenges. Some have to wait for [up to] 66 days before they can register a company in Namibia. They get discouraged and take their investment elsewhere where they can register a business within six days,” a concerned Tweya said.
Tweya called on Namibians to change their attitude and be open and receptive towards development and foreign investors, adding that President Hage Geingob at the recently concluded Geneva Conference on Trade used the opportunity to market and promote Namibia as an investment hub that is ready to welcome investors.
“As government we are clear on what we want, which is to market Namibia and bring investment opportunities for Namibians. However, civil servants and their unpatriotic behaviour are costing us such investment opportunities – they are our worst enemies. Their attitude must change unless they want to cost us jobs and development,” lamented the minister.
Meanwhile, Tweya revealed he had to intervene last week in the case of heavy machinery meant to be released by customs for the multi-million- dollar Peugeot assembly plant planned for the coast.
The assembly plant is a joint venture between the Namibia Development Corporation and Groupe PSA France and will see Peugeot and Opel vehicles being assembled at Walvis Bay and exported to the rest of the African continent.
The first consignment of the assembly plant arrived last week but was held up by customs as they wanted to impose a levy on the machinery.
Tweya said his deputy had to travel to Walvis Bay and intervene for the equipment to be released by overzealous customs officers. He said the officials, instead of consulting or taking into consideration the bigger benefits for the country, put the project in jeopardy.
Currently, he said, six small and medium enterprises are contracted to assist with the installation of the machines while the plant itself will create 50 to 60 jobs once it is completed due to increased automation in the assembly facilities.
“Imagine, all these jobs could have been lost because of bureaucracy. This is all-out sabotage,” the minister said.
He said such behaviour of customs officials is unacceptable.
“Instead of seeing the bigger picture that the assembly plant will bring in much more revenue and jobs than a levy they wanted to impose. We really need to think beyond and act in the best interest of the country. What was done could have blocked the project and many others if we carry on this way,” lamented Tweya.