Kandjoze defends delivery unit

Analysts question appointments

20 August 2021 | Government



Analysts have questioned government’s decision to enlist the services of two engineers to manage the public-funded delivery unit, cautioning that the move creates an overlap and duplication of roles within the government system.

Panashe Daringo and Scott Richard - through their respective entities Lithon Consulting Engineers and Mondjila Project Advisory and Management - are leading the Harambee Prosperity Plan 2 projects, with the presidency maintaining that the unit is only a support structure.

No details about the cost of enlisting their services has been made public.

NPC director-general Obed Kandjoze said the commission has been experiencing challenges, including the lack of capacity in monitoring and evaluation (M&E).

Following a 2014 restructuring at the National Planning Commission (NPC), a directorate responsible for monitoring and evaluation was established comprising of eight staff members was established.

The eight staff members, according to Kandjoze, are the ones responsible for undertaking all monitoring and evaluation related activities such as the development of M&E mechanisms, conduct M&E on projects and policies being implemented, capacity building of all public entities and compiling progress reports to Cabinet.

Analyst warnings

Political analyst Henning Melber warned that the contracting of the joint venture adds onto the “unsustainably high percentage of current expenditure for the civil service”.

He added that “it is a waste of resources and blurs responsibilities”.

“To recruit additional experts to implement a plan which strictly speaking should be superfluous if the current NDP is taken serious and properly implemented, is the opposite of effective governance. It suggests that the president in a populist manner creates the impression that he is the one fixing problems single-handedly. He is of course not,” said Melber.

He added: “Instead, we have competing blueprints claiming to achieve socioeconomic progress in different entities. The president has with the A-team created an empire of its own, not accountable to anyone outside of State House, which now is even expanded by additional recruitments. This team is handpicked without transparency,” he said.

“The president’s mandate is not to replace the line ministries with his impromptu initiatives. Rather, he should scrutinise the ministries if they are up to standard,” he said.

Another analyst, Kamwanyah Ndumbah, also expressed reservations.

“From a governance and public policy perspective, clarity is a crucial element of feasibility and viability of any project or programme. It seems clarity is lacking in terms of the level at which HPP2 is being implemented,” he said.

He added: “I might be wrong but the impression I have is that the plan is integrated across ministries, meaning it's implemented at ministry levels under the stewardship of ministers. But now with the new appointment to assist the A-team it seems the plan is being implemented at the advisor levels.”

No duplications

Kandjoze said the joint venture was brought on board to complement and augment the fast delivery of projects by the NPC and government at large.

“The lack of capacity in M&E at the National Planning Commission and government at large has been hampering the effective execution of the function. Furthermore, this is derived from the fact that the M&E Unit within the National Planning Commission is understaffed and there are no M&E officials in most ministries.

The implication is that other officials from other units most notably from planning function are often delegated to undertake the function in addition to their original functions,” he said.

Regarding the costs involved, Kandjoze said the annual costs for the delivery unit has been budgeted for under the NPC’s vote.

“The amount budgeted for the unit will be declining annually as the function of the unit will be absorbed by National Planning Commission,” he said.

Also at issue is the safeguarding sensitive government information that Richards and Daringo will have unfettered access to while running the unit.

Kandjoze said “due diligence” was applied in trying to identify the best qualified companies to undertake the task prior to the hiring of the Mondjila Project Advisory & Management and Lithon Project Consultants.

“In addition to the vetting and reference checks, the consultants were subjected to the signing of oath of secrecy as one of the existing conditions for accepting government employment. The outcome of the vetting and reference check processes was a resounding success prompting the hiring of the two consultants,” he said.

Daringo did not answer to questions sent to them.

Richards said: “I will reply when I get a gap; I am in back-to-back meetings.”