CPBN must apologise, explain recruitment gaffe

REVELATIONS that the Office of the Ombudsman has found that the latest recruitments and appointments at the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) were irregular, unfair and prejudicial to other candidates call for the tender body to not only offer an apology but provide an extensive explanation in the spirit of anti-tribalism.

In April and May this year, the CPBN board appointed 14 new staff members all from the same ethnic group with 13 of them being women. When the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) filed a complaint, the board refuted claims of bias and justified its recruitment process.

We recall that last year, Confidente published an expose on the recruitment process at CPBN where an intelligence vetting which coincidentally weeded out 11 non-Oshiwambo speaking employees, was castigated as a means to purge those portrayed to be unamenable to alleged corrupt agendas of some senior officials at the CPBN and the Ministry of Finance.

We further reported that neither the Chief of Namibia Central Intelligence Service (NCIS) Philemon Malima nor former Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein endorsed the purging and victimisation of the employees who all turned out to be “incorruptible”.

While all these allegations were denied, it is interesting that today we have learnt that Walters found that six of the 14 recruits did not meet either advertised requirements or failed the interview process.

This is worsened by the fact that the board has failed to explain itself and its recruitment considering that at the heart of the procurement system are huge tenders such as the N$3 billion Public Service Medical Aid Scheme (PSEMAS), the N$300 million worth payroll deduction system and the tax maintenance system worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

With allegations that were posed by Nudo secretary general Joseph Kauandenge that whoever appointed the employees at the CPBN had ulterior motives, was negligent and had a very clear agenda of advancing a particular tribe at the expense of others appearing to have been proven true, it is imperative that this issue be addressed by the board itself. Any tribal insinuations in the recruitment of Namibians particularly in public institutions warrant urgent redress as they cannot, by any measure, be tolerated in a free Namibia, 30 years post-independence.

As a publication we vehemently agree with Walters’ report that recommended the board takes the necessary disciplinary action against those who were responsible for the mistakes that led to the irregular appointments of persons and inform the watchdog of the outcome. With urgency, the board must review its recruitment policy that appears to prejudice other tribes in favour of others.

At the very least, fair judgement, equal opportunity, none racial and none tribal recruitment processes must prevail in labour practices across all sectors of the economy.

The fundamental freedoms enshrined in the national constitution warrant this just impartiality and therefore, it can and should never be compromised.