NPC Director General, Tom Alweendo speaks about TIPEEG, Vision 2030 and NDPIV
- Alweendo says if he were to address jobless people, he would not
Cde Director General,
there have been media reports
about the slow pace at which
TIPEEG (Targeted Intervention
Programme for Employment
Creation and Economic Growth)
is being implemented. The National
NPC, is one of the co-coordinating
bodies overseeing the implementation
of TIPEEG. As Director
General, are you satisfied with
the rate at which TIPEEG is being
Some of those questions
are not a yes or a no kind of answer. But let me give you some
background about how TIPEEG
came into being. Namibia is
faced with a higher rate of unemployment.
The government is seriously
concerned about this.
While we are busy putting systems
in place to prepare ourselves
for more long-term jobs, the government
thought it wise to do
something in the mean time about
the high unemployment rate in the
country. And the only thing the
government can do really is to increase
its expenditure in infrastructure
development. If you are
going to develop infrastructure,
whether it's a road, a railway, a
school or a clinic, at least there
would be some people employed
on those projects.
It is true that those people cannot
be employed on a long-term
basis. On projects like building
schools or clinics, such people
may be employed for six or seven
months. That's how long it takes
to build a school. A road could
be longer, a railway could be
much longer. The longest could
be four years. To do this, we have
to increase our expenditure in infrastructure
have to increase our Capital Budget,
which is sometimes called
While we are doing that, we
also realized that we should not
just develop infrastructure everywhere.
We chose to focus on certain
sectors, which may make us
more economically competitive
for the future. For example, if you
have good roads or good rails,
you can transport your goods
faster and efficiently, thus reducing
transport costs. When you
have got good harbours, we become
competitive as a country in the region.
So we are quite selective in
where we want to put a lot of
money in. So we did not actually
go and put money in everything.
That's why we concentrate on
transport infrastructure, on agriculture,
housing and tourism. So
those were some of the areas
where we say let us put more government
funding to help create
more jobs. All it really means is
that while we are preparing ourselves
for long-term jobs, we must
do something in the meantime to
create temporary jobs to get people employed.
That's how TIPEEG came into
being. There is also a bit of a misunderstanding.
TIPEEG is a separate fund where
people can come and borrow
money. That's not how it works.
TIPEEG is still Capital Budget,
which means, the money is still
voted for under the line ministries.
TIPEEG funds under construction
like roads are still under the
Ministry of Works. They are the
ones with the money. It is on their
vote. For agricultural projects,
that money is under the Ministry
of Agriculture. Tourism is under
the Ministry of Environment.
Housing is under the Ministry of
Regional and Local, Housing and
With all these massive projects
in mind and a lot of money involved,
we also realized that we
are not going to rely on the normal
implementation strategy if we
wanted to succeed. There have
been complaints about how slow
the Tender Board process is. If we
want to make a dent on unemployment,
we should not just rely
on that. It's not going to help us,
especially now that we have got
more money than usual. With
TIPEEG, the Development Budget
increased from N$5 billion to
N$8 billion. That is a massive increase.
It usually increases by say
five percent annually. Today it is
That's a lot of money. That's
quite a huge increase. Now, if you
are going to spend that money using
the same implementation
strategy, we would never actually
spend it all. We created a structure
where you have a TIPEEG
chaired by the Permanent SecreSecretary
of the National Planning
Commission, NPC. We got in the
permanent secretaries of the Office
of the Prime Minister, Ministries
of Labour and of Finance.
The TIPEEG Implementation
Committee is made of these permanent
secretaries. The idea was
to speed up the implementation
process. For this to happen, however,
the line ministries should
take their projects to this committee
to quickly advertise and award
the tenders so that the project can
start quickly. The financial year
starts from April to March the following
year, but you get people
up to now going to tenders. What
is the point of going on tender in
February? You only have one
With the implementation Committee
in place, we thought things
would move faster. The ministries
were simply not bringing their
projects to the Committee. It is
not the Committee that should approach
the ministries. The ministries
themselves must take their
projects to the Committee.
TIPEEG's money is still under the
You know that people do not
like changes. Just as things were
starting to move, the legality of
the Implementation Committee
was being questioned. Some
people were saying that the new
Committee had no powers to
award tenders. But at the beginning,
we all agreed about the need
to create this committee to speed
up things. But when we were discussing
the matter, these things
were never raised.
We discussed these things and
nobody raised this issue at that
point. Now, if our own people
were saying it was illegal, imagine
what tenderers were going to
say. They would take you to
court, especially when they lose
tenders. You know how the courts
work. It would be drawn-out
battles, and you end up paying
massive legal costs. And what
have you achieved? Nothing!
We then agreed that this
TIPEEG Implementation Committee
should become a sub-committee
of the Tender Board. Whatever
decisions the Committee
takes, such decisions would be
taken on behalf of the Tender
Board. Such decisions would be
as if they were taken by the Tender
Board itself. That was how
we went around that legal issue.
But it took us a while to do that.
That aside, the Committee's
work is really dependent on how
fast the ministries come and
present their projects to the Tender
Board. But ministries were not
just doing that. Things really
moved slowly as a result of that.
To answer your question, I am not
happy with the rate at which
TIPEEG is being implemented.
We just got February figures and
I am not happy with that. I am
If the idea was to implement
such projects quickly, you would
not want to leave a cent not spent.
But as we speak now, a lot of
money is going back to the Treasury.
There are lessons to be
learned. I believe that whatever
system you come up with, it is
never perfect. You assume certain
things, but when you start implementing
them, things turn out differently.
The lessons we have
learned will help us change the
system so that it works better.
For example, instead of concentrating
all the projects in the
central government, why not distribute
some projects to the regions?
Each region has its own
Tender Board. Why not say to
Region A, this project is in your
region. We give money to you.
These are the rules which must
be followed, but you are the one
to award tenders.
That we believe will speed up
the process. But some people say
yes, but the regions do not have
the capacity. I do not want to buy
that capacity issue. It is actually
people who want to concentrate
things in the central government
who say that. Why have we decided
to have regions if we don't
want to give them the power to
do certain things? Those people
in the regions are going to do
things on your behalf. It will still
be ministry's A's work. There is
still a bit of resistance. People are
using capacity as an issue why we
should not give funds to the regions.
If we are arguing about capacity
as an issue in the region, what
capacity do we have ourselves?
If we are not able to implement
the projects fully, and you still
want to say you have better capacity!
What does that mean? You
are actually defeating the whole
purpose. You have no argument.
What capacity do you have?
Money is going back to the Treasury!
Unless you say I have fully
implemented the projects because
of my capacity and therefore I
don't want to give money to the
regions because they don't have
the capacity. But as we speak
now, that is not the case.
You are not implementing the
projects at the expected speed.
Your capacity is therefore probably
questionable. That is one of
the lessons we have learned. We
should probably think about not
concentrating all the tenders in the
central government. We can set a
threshold and say projects below
this figure must go to the regions.
The regions should be the ones
to implement those projects. We
may go there and monitor what
they are doing and evaluate what
they have done. If we do this, it
will seriously speed up the process.
The way we went about employment
creation through government
projects was also really
not the best one. If the idea was
to give tenders to people who
would create jobs, you would
want to give the tender to people
who have the capacity to create
more jobs. But to tell you, if I
know that this is what you want,
I will tell you I will create 1000
jobs, whereas in actual fact, I only
created 400. Yes, we have such
The approach was not accurate
because tenderers will just inflate
the figures to win a particular tender.
But in reality, the situation on
the ground is different. We needed
to set criteria which would allow
us to assess the capacity of the
tenderer to create jobs and to deliver
before awarding such tenders.
That could have made things
a lot easier. Figures about jobs
created would also be accurate.
Another aspect that also came
out is that if you look at the situation
statistically, the majority of
the unemployed youth are the
ones without skills, those who
dropped out of Grade 10, or did
not even reach Grade 10. These
are the people who are mostly unemployed.
Another question was
also raised as to what to do with
the young people who finished
at UNAM or Polytechnic of
Namibia, but who do not have
jobs? We agreed then that instead
of concentrating on Grade 10
dropouts only, we should also
look at people who are qualified
but who do not have jobs.
These are the people who went
to UNAM. You paid to train such
people. Aren't you better served
to make them employable either
through the private sector, where
you say, 'employ these people,
maybe not on a full time basis,
but at least for them to acquire
skills and make them employable.
We can create a special fund to
offset costs. Once equipped with
the necessary skills, these people
will end up getting full-time jobs.
You need a system where you
have government funds through
which you assist such people to
acquire skills. Those are some of
the lessons we have learned
through TIPEEG implementation.
Are you saying that
part of the slow process is largely
because of the legal complications
created by the coming into
being of the Implementation
Committee, and its relation to the
Not really. The biggest
problem came in when the
ministries were not forth coming
in bringing their projects to the
committee. That was the major
problem. The one of subjecting
the Committee under the Tender
Board was sorted out some
months ago. The solution was
found. It did not take long to sort
it out. We did not want to ignore
those concerns. We also wanted
to be on the legal side of the law.
That is where we are right now.
You are saying you
are not happy with the rate at
which TIPEEG is being implemented.
If you were to make corrections
to make you happy as
DG, what corrections will you
Answer: If it was for me, I
would just want to find out why
you did not do what you were
supposed to do. Is it because you
do not want to do it or is it because
you do not have the skills
to do it? If you don't have the
skills, I would understand. I will
say let us work on the skills.
But if you did not do it because
you were busy with some other
things, or you just did not care,
you did not pay attention, my solution
is this: "My friend, I have
got other people who can do it."
Sometimes we are not willing to
make people accountable for
what they have not done. And
people get used to it. This, in itself,
also becomes the system. If
I do not do it, who is going to do
anything against me?
At the end of the day, it is all of
us who get blamed. People just
NPC Director General, Tom Alweendo say it is the government, whereas
it is just one individual who did
not do his/her job. These are the
people who are giving the government
a bad name. People out
there do not say Tom Alweendo
did not do his job, they just say it
is the SWAPO Party government.
But that is not fair. True, there are
people in government who are
doing their best to make things
work. But there are those who are
not doing their work.
For me the best thing is to find
out why things have not moved
and hold people accountable for
what they have not done. We are
letting down the people. We are
letting down the President. In every
State of the Nation Address,
he would talk about service delivery
all the time. He always says
we need to deliver services to our
people. If we are not doing this,
we are not heeding the President's
call. Honestly, we are not just letting
down the President. We are
letting the whole nation down. We
are letting down the unemployed.
There are the people we are
elected to serve, but we are letting
What will make me happy is
that people should take their duties
and responsibilities seriously
and deliver. I must once again say
there are people who want to
make things happen. There a few
ones who really let down the system.
And people out there just say
the SWAPO Party government is
useless. Why should we all be
tainted just because of a few individuals?
I understand those who
say they cannot do it because they
don't have the skills. Those ones
must be helped to get the right
But those with skills who
somehow focus their attention
somewhere else, and not on the
jobs they are supposed to do, I
will get rid of them. I really would
get rid of them. Some people may
say it is harsh, but if you are not
prepared to say "look my friend,
we agreed with you that you
would do this. It is not that I am
forcing you. We agreed. And look
at what you have done?"
But now I am the one who
must explain to the people, the
President must now explain to the
people about what happened.
That is not fair. Imagine you are the Head of State. The President
told the nation what would happen
when he launched TIPEEG.
He can't say it was not me, it was
so and so. We are letting the President
Given the money
that has so far been spent, how
many jobs have been created?
We have created
about 7600 jobs as of February. I
am being cautious about that figure.
Our system sometimes is not
what it should be. It has always
been difficult for us to verify those
figures from the ministries. The
ministries are the ones implementing
projects through which
jobs are created. They are the ones
compiling these figures. We normally
ask them how many jobs
they have created on each project.
We also ask the contractors, just
to verify the figures. But you don't
always have the same figure. So
you end up getting different figures,
sometimes a bit inflated.
Who inflates the
I don't know how
they do it. We developed a system
which they are supposed to
use. But you also find a certain
area where there is a project
where money was spent on, but
the line ministry cannot tell you
how many jobs have been created.
Again, they are not paying
attention to these things. It is like,
"ah we can do it tomorrow."
Sometimes you have projects
implemented, but on jobs created,
it shows zero. That is not possible.
You cannot tell me that you
have not created jobs when you
have spent, say N$50 million.
Surely, there was a project implemented.
This money was paid to
someone to work on the project.
So you can't tell me that you don't
have figures for the number of
jobs created. So the figure (7600)
is probably much higher than it
is. Our system of compiling figures
has not been consistent, simply
because some people do not
take their duties seriously.
Remember that we have made
promises. The people will want
to know one day how many jobs
we have created. You want to give
the correct figures. You don't
want to guess. Therefore as officials,
make sure that you have the
correct figures. It is not so difficult
because the contractor is
there, you can go on site and get
the figures. But it is a struggle.
People do not pay attention to
It was an experiment. I don't
also want to be an idealist. You
have to be a realist sometimes. As
I say people do not like changes.
It is only now that they realize it
is becoming serious. For example,
we need to tell the people
which ministry has not done
what. Now they start getting serious,
for obvious reasons. If people
out there know that this ministry
has not done that, what does it
mean? What does it tell people
about your ministry? People are
now starting to see that things are
And it has got to be serious because
that TIPEEG document is
a public document. People have
read it. People even know the
projects under TIPEEG. They
know those projects. They are in
that book. You can't hide them.
Even the number of jobs to be created
under each project is there
in that document. The information
is there. People just want to
know what happened. And I can't
hide that from the public. I just
want to tell the public the truth. It
already knows where we are. Information
about what we promised
to do is out there. That document
was made public when the
President launched it. You need
to tell the people what the outcomes
of the programme are.
What are the reasons
given by ministries which
have not spent most of the
money? What reasons do they
give to justify that inaction on
The answer is usually
like "ooh is that true?" I can only
say it is so because your Permanent
Secretary says so. On the
money, we get the figures from
the Ministry of Finance. The
records are there. You can't dispute
those records. But you have
some ministries that say, "Look!
that can't be true." But it is true.
That is the figure we get, verified
by your officials. But some officials
try to blame the Tender
Board. They will say, "Jaah! It is
the Tender Board." That is not
I have discovered that this
whole thing about the Tender
Board being the bottleneck is not
true. All along, the issue has always
been the ministries themselves,
who are the owners of the
projects, who do not do their
work. The Tender Board cannot
do anything until a line ministry
approaches it with projects to be
advertised and awarded. But they
don't. If you do not come to the
Tender Board, what do you expect
it to do? The Tender Board
meets every Friday. So, the Tender
Board is not to blame. It is the
line ministries who are not doing
their jobs fast enough to approach
the Tender Board.
As a banker, how
frustrating is it to work without
figures? For bankers, 2+2=4. But
in politics 2+2 is not always 4.
2+2=6 or even 1. It is frustrating,
not only as a banker, but also as a
planner. You want to plan based
on real information. If you do not
have real information, you may
overestimate the problem, and
you end up doing things that you
should not do because the situation
was not as bad as you thought
it was. Or you may underestimate
it and keep quiet thinking that eveverything
is fine but things are not
as good as you think they are.
It is really frustrating when you
have a system which cannot give
numbers which people can trust
and base their plans on. If you say
this is the number, this must be
the number. For planning, numbers
are very important. It is critical
that we perfect the system. I
know there is no perfect system.
Even in our ordinary house life,
there is no perfect system. You
won't have a perfect system. But
we need a system where one can
say, well, this is the figure and it
If TIPEEG is fully
implemented, what impact will it
have on the goals set out in Vision
If TIPEEG is fully
implemented, Vision 2030 will be
a reality. Vision 2030 talks about
having a well-maintained infrastructure.
It means we would have
good infrastructure. You would
have good roads, rails, harbour.
Vision 2030 says we must have
such modern infrastructure. It
talks about sustainable economic
growth. It talks about Namibia being
an industrialized country. If
projects under TIPEEG are fully
implemented, you would have at
least contributed to economic
growth. You would also have reduced
2030 talks about unemployment
being below five percent. We are
left with 18 years only.
Are we going to
That is the question.
I believe we will make it, but not
at the pace we are moving. But
for me, it is doable. We can make
it, but we have to think differently.
We cannot want to make it and
just continue doing things as we
have been doing them all those
years. Why lie to yourself that
way? You can already see that
things have not worked, but you
want to say it is OK. Unless you
are saying you are not serious
about Vision 2030. If you are serious
and you are saying we will
make it at this pace, you are lying
to yourself. The moment you start
lying to yourself, it is so difficult
to correct things because you are
trying to protect some thing you
shouldn't be protecting.
If I find weaknesses in myself,
it is much easier for me to address
them. The moment I find weaknesses
in you, and I point them
out, work on them. Do not defend
them. That is what defeats
us. Fix the weaknesses and move
on. That is how you improve and
get better results in achieving your
goals. The problem is when we
think it is OK, when we know
things are not OK. It becomes
difficult to act and work on the
weaknesses. We must agree that
the rate at which we are moving,
there is no way we are going to
have an unemployment rate of
below five percent.
At what rate should
the economy grow to realize those
The projection used
to be seven percent, but because
for too long it did not move, now
it is about nine percent. Now we
only have 18 years left. The seven
percent is no longer sufficient to
realize the goals set out in Vision
2030 in 18 years. You have to
raise the bar to nine percent at
least. That is a toll order. For me
it is still doable because TIPEEG is trying to address immediate
problems. What we need to do
now is to create industries. We
need to create industries. Nobody
has seen economic growth coming
about by tinkering here and
there, creating short term jobs.
You need to say, look, let us
promote one or two industries
where we are making something,
something we are selling to somebody
or to ourselves. For example,
the mining sector is growing.
The whole industry needs
input, like uranium needs acid to
enrich it. Where do we buy such
input? From outside. Why can we
not create an acid industry to supply
the mining sector? Those are
real jobs. As long as you have the
mining sector growing, those are
Sometimes we are afraid to
spend money. We always think it
is too much money. But all countries
that have industries today
have not reached that level by
chance. They focused their energies
and resources on specific sectors
to grow their economy. Yes,
most of the time we are told that
such things are better run by the
private sector. But we also know
that the government has to fund
those start-ups. It is not always
done by the private sector,
whether you go to the US, or UK.
It is not true that they started using
the private sector. Governments
in those countries realized
that for them to create sustainable
jobs, they needed to have those
industries. Those governments
spent billions of money to industrialize.
It is still doable for us to have
such kind of economic growth.
But it will take serious rethinking
and changing the way we do
things. You have people who will
say, "no it can't be done that way,
it's crazy, it is too much money.
We are wasting money." But in
life you are not going to make
money if you are not prepared to
spend more money. You don't.
How does it work? Even for a private
person, it does not work that
way. But we are somehow afraid
to spend money, made worse by
people who also tell us that "you
guys, you can't make it. It is not
Take the story of South Korea.
That country decided to have a
steel industry to build ships and
make cars. They did not even
have iron ore from which you
make steel. They did not have it.
They did not have the money to
start with. But they decided as a
government, that this is our decision,
we are going to establish a
steel industry. They approached
the World Bank to borrow money.
The Bank said no, we are not
going to give you money because
this is ridiculous. You can't do
that. This is not viable." They
went to Japan, which gave them
some loan, so they started with the industry. Today, they are the
fourth largest economy in the
world which produces steel. But
if they listened to everybody who
said they could not do it, they
would not have been where they
are today. Today, the World Bank
cites South Korea as a rare example.
But it refused to give
South Korea the money because
it did not believe that the project
Sometimes we also like quick
results. If I spend the money today,
next year they will say "you
see, it did not work. We told you."
But who said it would work in
one year? These things you need
to promote until people get used
to them. But you have some
people who, after two or three
years, come and say, "you are
wasting taxpayers' money. We
told you it would not work. Now
you see...." And sure enough, intimidated
by such remarks, you
just cut off and you start all over
again with something else. But
things don't just happen in two
or three years' time.
Things take long to happen.
You have to change the mindset
of the people. It takes a while. You
have to be consistent and focussed
and say that is what I am
going to do and do it I will. Sometimes
we are too much in a hurry
and not patient enough to really
just say, "look, we are going to
go with this project." You should
not be swayed by our detractors.
They are always quite happy
when you abandon a particular
project. That is what they want.
They will say, "you see, we told
Even with TIPEEG, they will
say, "we told you that you are not
going to spend all that money."
Others will even say, "jaa, maybe
we should not have done it that
way." Let us learn lessons from
what we have done so far, improve
on it and carry on with the
programme until one day we get
where we want to get. We tend to
listen to people who say it is not
possible. Such people have other
reasons to say so. They do not
necessarily have our interest at
Some of those experts come
from countries where you want
to import things you want develop
locally. Of course, they will say
no to protect their interests and
their economies. They have no
interest in wanting to buy from
you. When they say "it is not possible,"
it is not because it is true
that it is not possible. It is because
they have other interests to protect.
Their interests are not necessarily
yours. They don't have
the same interest as you have.
They have their own interest. We
are always misled by people who
say they are the experts, and if
they talk, we must listen to them.
I am all for listening. I never
claim to be right all the time. But
when you listen to people, always
analyse their motives. Why are
they saying what they are saying?
Are we on the same side of
things? If we are not, nine out of
10, their reasoning is not based
on the same reasoning yours. It
is based on other reasons.
If you were to meet
and address jobless people who
would have benefitted from
TIPEEG projects, but who now
see unspent billions going back
to the Treasury, what will you
I just hope that I
don't meet them. Really it will
be difficult to explain to them
about what really happened. It
is one thing when there is no
money. It is quite another when
there is money. I really hope that
I don't have to meet them. I
would not want to be the one to
explain to them. It is very difficult.
People are really out there not
having anything to do, but here
you are, wasting time on the bureaucracy
for whatever reasons.
I just hope I don't meet them
because I don't know what to tell
them. I guess maybe to apologize
to them, but that is not good
enough. How do you apologise to
a guy who was hoping that he
would have a job by just you issuing
a tender? Now you are saying
you did not have the time to award
the tender? It is not good enough.
Question: Is there anything else
that you want to say Cde
Now that we are working
on NDP4 we are going to recommend
things that are practical
and doable. Some people may say
we are crazy, but we really need to
start believing in ourselves and we
can do these things for ourselves.
I also think that sometimes we say
things but we don't really believe
that we can actually do them. If
we believe we can do them, we
should be the ones to drive the
execution of those projects. The
catch-phrase is: "I know that is
what I want, and I will do it."
As we speak today, it is as if we
are being forced to do things by
somebody else. But this is something
you said you want to do. Our
mindsets need changing. Things
are not just possible because they
are possible. Sometimes we need
to fiercely push them through to
make them possible. To do that,
our mindsets must change. But
sometimes we just say "we are too
small a country, we have many unskilled
workers, we are just not
good enough like the South Koreans.
They can do it, but we can't
do it." The self-belief in ourselves
is not strong enough in most of us.
That is what destroys our spirit and
strong will to do things.
If you believe in yourself, you
just do not let things go by themselves
like that. You will always
say "hey, what is going on here?"
You make it your daily task to ensure
that things are happening, you
see them happening. Do not wait
until year end and say ooh! Really!
That is what it is?
What we are promoting in
NDP4 is to do basic things - we
can only do things if we really believe
they are possible and we can
do them. Some of us as leaders go
out there saying things but we do
not really believe them. What I do
does not show that I believe what
I was saying because I go and do
something else or do nothing at all.
That concept of saying it is possible
and we are the people who
are going to make it happen should
be inculcated in our people. We can
do things. We are just as good as
the Americans and the South Koreans.
There is nothing different between
you and those guys. The
only difference there is so far is the
determination. We lack the determination
to see our projects
through. But in terms of the intellect,
there is absolutely no difference.
The secret is: "know what
you want to do and have the will
to do it." It is the belief and the
willingness to make things happen
which we should cherish and promote.
That is what we are going to
encourage in NDPIV. Let us
change our mindsets about our
abilities to do things and tell ourselves
that yes, we can indeed do