Did High Commissioner Blow Away Her Chances?

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By Mbatjiua Ngavirue The sudden news Monday night that President Hifikepunye Pohamba has revoked the appointment of Tsukhoe Gowases as High Commissioner to Botswana appears to have caught everyone except Foreign Ministry insiders off guard. The move is unprecedented, because as far anyone can remember nothing similar has ever happened in Namibia’s short post-independence history. The president duly made the appointment in August last year, with all the accompanying pomp and ceremony at State House. Imagine then the disappointment for the overjoyed appointee to have the treasured post unceremoniously snatched out of her hands. And no small post it was either! By all accounts, Gowases was already starting to enjoy the generous salary and perks that go with a high commissioner’s post. NBC news first reported the story, with State House so far not having made any official announcement. The embittered, now ex-high commissioner apparently leaked the news herself. Yesterday Ndali Kamati at State House confirmed that President Pohamba had revoked the appointment. He added that there was no need for an official statement as the person concerned made the announcement herself. Kamati was not able to give any other reason for the president’s decision to revoke the appointment, other than the reasons given in the letter President Pohamba sent to Gowases. In the letter, Pohamba apparently informed Gowases that he felt she could “be more useful serving in another capacity at home”. There has been speculation that comments Gowases made when interviewed by NBC television at State House immediately after her appointment may have blown her chances. When then asked what she hoped to achieve as High Commissioner to Botswana, she reportedly replied something to the effect that she did not really know what the job entailed and that she was going there to learn. According to one source, this started rumblings within the Swapo Party, with many members questioning her suitability for such an important post. Contrary to some speculation, it does not seem the appointment was revoked because of objections from Botswana. A knowledgeable source said the host country has normally already approved the candidate by the time the president announces such appointments. All attempts to reach Gowases for comment yesterday proved fruitless. She has been reporting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the last five months on full high commissioner’s pay, while being given no assignments. There are unconfirmed reports that President Pohamba himself is very unhappy about the whole affair, feeling those who advised him to make the appointment have served him poorly. Little could be gleaned about her background, as insiders appear to have closed ranks in an effort to avoid further embarrassment. The only information that could be obtained about the 65-year-old Gowases is that she served as Khomas Regional Councillor in the mid-90’s, representing the Katutura East Constituency. She however failed to secure re-nomination by her own party to contest a further election. Before she went into exile in 1978, she was a kindergarten teacher, but Swapo sent her for further studies in London but it is not known what field she studied.