Procurement board denies 'tribal purge'

The Central Procurement Board of Namibia has rejected claims that non-Oshiwambo-speaking staff were being purged.

12 March 2019 | Labour

The deputy chairperson of the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN), Lischen Ramakhutla, has denied there is an ongoing tribal purge that favours Oshiwambo-speaking employees.

This follows an article published in local weekly Confidente which claimed that non-Oshiwambo-speaking staff were being targeted through vetting processes.

Sources had told the publication that a grouping within the CPBN was aiming to oust employees “unamenable to corruptive practices”.

“It is an extension of the old tender board who has lost influence due to the new central procurement board, which are trying to remove the current employee set-up (sic). It is another form of state-capture if they get their own employees (sic),” a source told the newspaper.

Ramakhutla, however, dismissed the claims. According to her, most of the CPBN's workers were on short contracts and vetting was part of the employment process.

“The vetting process is part of the terms of employment. It is not something that is being done for the first time,” she said.

According to her, Oshiwambo-speaking employees on short-term contracts also failed the vetting process. The decision to vet had been made by the finance ministry, under which the procurement board falls.

“The board members are also being vetted. The same practice applies to employees,” she said.

According to Ramakhutla, this forms part of mitigating risk. She added the board had difficulty appointing employees on a full-time basis.

“Our backgrounds are different. When we were appointed, we assumed recruitment would not be challenging. It takes us [up to] six weeks to complete the [recruitment] process. We need bodies to assist,” Ramakhutla said.

Procurement board chairperson Patrick Swartz said they were seized with the recruitment matter and had approached finance minister Calle Schlettwein.

“We are constantly engaging the line minister; it has been brought to his attention,” he said.

Swartz has in the past said that the board will need upwards of

1 000 employees.

“To strengthen and enlarge this capacity of the CPBN to evaluate bids across the spectrum of procurement required, we require a pool of approximately 1 000 professionals from where the board could collect the desired mixture of skills and appoint them as an ad hoc evaluation committee,” he said.

OGONE TLHAGE

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