THE MISSING FILES: In 1975 I was employed by the Department of Water affairs in Namibia and stationed in Windhoek. My job was basically electrical design for water pump stations and anything else the boss can think of to keep me busy. One morning he approaches me and we discuss the viability of training apprentices. This was a rather strange request because I was not aware of Water Affairs having any apprentices much less train them.
I was to draw up a full curriculum and training schedules for electrical apprentices to cover a 4/5 year training period. We discussed this and that but something did just not fit and when I questioned the absence of apprentices he told me to get on with the project. As he left he reminded me that he wants the training schedule within a fortnight. I mulled over this for half a day then had beautiful idea: I made an appointment with the apprentice instructor on the railways where I was trained, for the next morning.
Next morning I arrived at the Railways Electrical apprentice school in my best collar and tie. Willem, the training supervisor was waiting for me. We discussed the project and finally he gave me a standard training file. Every apprentice has a file indicating his progress and capabilities. And the file is updated every month. The file includes a list of jobs the apprentice must do and is rated accordingly. I was told to make a copy of the file and then destroy the original file because it had SAR identity logo’s on it.
It was a real thankless job redoing the file to suit Water Affairs training requirements. Eg, Water Affairs does not have train coaches which must be serviced. And that job can be exchanged for maintenance of a borehole pump. Water affairs electrical staff must at least, know something about telemetry and the control of reservoir levels. All electrical staff must know how to overhaul an electrical motor etc.
After several days the main file was completed so I had 12 copies made on the assumption that at least 10 apprentices will be taken on board. Some days later the boss came around to see the progress. I handed him his file and after some discussion he left. It was about 16.00h and I left too. Next morning the files were missing, every single one of them. I paid a visit to the boss who shrugged it off as a minor incident.
This little robbery bothered me some and after some time I realised what happened. It was the same case as the Emergency water scheme in the north which was designed to satisfy the UN and the terms of the mandate of SWA.. The electrical file was only for show, ie to show the UN that training was taking place Although it never existed.. The name Willem is fictitious. The construction department did have a few apprentices but they fell outside our operations.
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