Govt spin doctors in PR dilemma

03 August 2021 | Government

MATHIAS HAUFIKU



WINDHOEK

Government spokespersons are silently opposing Cabinet’s decision to reverse a 2020 resolution that compelled all ministries to adopt an identical corporate identity, a move that was primarily aimed at ensuring conformity.

Cabinet last year adopted the new corporate manual document and directed all ministries to implement it. The move is aimed at having a single corporate image for government, which will be applicable to logos, buildings, car labels, documents, letterheads, business cards and banners, amongst other things.

The design of letterheads was finalised with the assistance of the information ministry and they were rolled out from 1 July.

Namibian Sun now understands that public relations officers (PROs) were told to stop using it and revert to the old letterheads with immediate effect.

The decision has left PROs in government bewildered, with some questioning the rationale of effecting the changes just a year after the new corporate manual was adopted and others indicating that the lack of consultation with those tasked to implement Cabinet decisions is to blame.

This was confirmed by information ministry executive director Mbeuta Ua-Ndjarakana’s directive issued last week, informing staff members about the changes.

“However, for indefinite reasons, the above-mentioned Cabinet decision that granted the endorsement of the government corporate identity manual and its implementation will be rescinded with immediate effect,” Ua-Ndajarakana said in the staff memorandum.

Old look

Ministries will have to revert to the old look, he said.

“Your kind cooperation is herein sought to revert to the previous look and feel of government communication, in particular the letterhead, and start using it with immediate effect. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Due to the financial implications of the planned corporate changes, government is implementing it in phases, starting with low hanging fruit such as letterheads and email signatures.

‘Embarrassing’

A PRO who chose not to be named described the reversal as “embarrassing”.

“Ministries have already started rolling out the project, just to be told we must stop. Many PROs do not support the idea to withdraw the directive because we need uniformity. This speaks to indecisiveness on our part,” they said.

“It is not clear what exactly happened, but we understand there was a complaint either from Cabinet members that proper consultation was not done,” an official who is privy to the matter said.

Another ministerial spokesperson, who also spoke under condition of anonymity, said government branding is currently in shambles and needs a total overhaul, which includes the finetuning of its corporate identity manual.

Others complained that Cabinet takes decisions without consulting those responsible to implement such decisions.

Information minister Peya Mushelenga said “there is a new Cabinet decision, hence ministries have changed from implementing the 2020 decision”.

“The withdrawal was necessitated by the new decision and the Cabinet Secretariat has communicated the latest decision to the ministries through the normal communication mode,” he said.

Mushelenga did not elaborate on the reasons which led to the rescindment.