Our cadre deployment curse

17 September 2019 | Opinion

Public enterprises minister Leon Jooste’s frank admission that appointing the right board members to parastatals is pivotal to ensuring their success must have been music to many a taxpayer’s ear.

For far too long, public enterprises’ boards have been stocked with the politically connected, with merit being an afterthought in most cases.

“If we can get one thing right, that would be to appoint the right board members. We would literally solve most of our problems.

“If we manage to appoint quality board members who are highly skilled, with the right personality traits and integrity, and who have that same culture, it will always filter down to the institution,” Jooste told Namibian Sun.

“A board like that with solid credibility would not want to fail and would not allow that entity to fail.

“They would make sure that they appoint a very capable CEO with the same characteristics and keep him or her accountable.

“That CEO will have exactly the same culture and leadership style that the board has and that would trickle down to the entire organisation,” Jooste added.

This is especially true in the current economic climate, where cadre deployment must finally give way to the appointment of capable individuals to steer our SOEs into sustainable waters. For too long we have watched aghast as parastatals gobbled up taxpayer money in the form of bailouts. This is a luxury we can no longer afford, as tough decisions have to be made continuously to get the country out of its current economic depression. Competency needs to the cornerstone, moving forward.

Inclusive growth is what is required, not the wasteful throwing away of money on non-performing entities run into the ground by those who enjoy a close proximity to the powerful. Party membership cards and struggle credentials can no longer be the yardstick by which appointments are made. SOE boards need to be accountable to the main shareholder - the taxpayer - and should not be used to milk the country’s udders dry.

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