Ex-Public Service Chief Brits Dies

THE first chairperson of Namibia’s Public Service Commission after independence in 1990, Willie Brits, has died at the age of 74.

Brits died at his home in Windhoek on Friday, after he had a heart attack, his wife, Joan, confirmed yesterday. He had been in ill health for about a year before his death.

Brits was a career civil servant who was the first chairperson of independent Namibia’s Public Service Commission (PSC). He served in that post from 1990 until his retirement at the end of 1996.

Before Namibia’s independence, Brits was also the chairperson of the Government Service Commission from 1987 to 1990. He was a member of that commission from 1984.

“He was a transformer,” a former colleague of Brits, long-serving former Public Service Commission member Bella Cupido, said yesterday.

Brits was the person who initiated the transformation of the public service of Namibia after the country’s independence, and he proved to be a unifying factor in a PSC that had to forge a new civil service from a divided public administration of the past, she said.

Another ex-colleague of Brits, former PSC member and ombudsman Bience Gawanas, also said yesterday: “He was really open to change, and with his experience he really contributed to the balanced structure of the public service at the time.”

Although there was a generational gap between her and Brits and the two of them came from quite different backgrounds, she believed that their differing experiences complemented each other in their work with the PSC, Gawanas said. She said she respected Brits for his professionalism as a public servant, and experienced him as being open for compromise.

Gawanas also recalled that Brits had a good sense of humour, while Cupido said he often displayed his lighter side when he and fellow PSC members spent time in one another’s company after hours while on visits to government offices around the country.

Cupido said while he had a good temperament as a work colleague, he was also strict with administrators, insisting that people do their job right, and in that respect he laid a good basis for the PSC secretariat.

Brits was succeeded as PSC chairperson by Joseph Ithana, who served in that post until 2005. Ithana died in May 2008.

Brits was born in South Africa in November 1939. He started his career as a civil servant in the Transvaal Department of Education. In 1971, he and his family moved to Namibia.

When South Africans employed in Namibia’s public service were given the option of returning to South Africa with Namibia’s independence, Brits chose to remain in Namibia and to become a Namibian citizen.

He leaves behind his wife, three children – a daughter living in Windhoek, a son living in South Africa, and a son in Australia – and a grandson. Funeral arrangements are still being finalised, but his funeral is expected to take place at the Reformed Church in Windhoek’s Luther Street on Monday morning, Mrs Brits said yesterday.

Source : The Namibian