By John Ekongo
Former Public Service Commission (PSCN) chairperson and businessman, Joseph Ithana (70), popularly known as Joe Ithana, has died. The late Ithana was the husband to Justice Minister and Attorney General Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana.
He died at the Roman Catholic Hospital on Monday morning after a long battle with cancer. Yesterday mourners converged at the Ithana family house, at number 6 Ursula Street in Ludwigsdorf, to pay their respects.
Among the first to pay homage were President Hifikepunye Pohamba and the Founding Father, Dr Sam Nujoma, who went to console the family on Monday evening.
Pohamba described Ithana as a man who cherished the principle of ‘One Namibia One Nation’.
“Comrade Ithana was known as one of those patriotic Namibians who despised tribalism and ethnicity. This is the principle he imparted among his fellow comrades,” said Pohamba in his condolence message.
The late Ithana was tasked with the responsibility of steering employment policies for Government employees during his tenure as the chairperson of the PSCN, the body that advises the President and Government on the appointment of suitable people in the public service.
He was appointed to the Public Service Commission as a Commissioner immediately after independence and again in 1995. In January 1997, he assumed the position of chairman of the commission for the remainder of the term until 2000, when he was then appointed as chairman.
Ithana is credited with promoting gender balance in the public service among many things and was instrumental in the restructuring of the civil service, which had inherited most of its technocrats from the previous dispensation.
He was appointed Chairman of the Security Commission in 1997.
Ithana was born in Osona in Okahandja district, January 23, 1938. He attended primary school at the Rhenish Herero Owambo School in Windhoek’s Old Location from 1948 to 1956. He also had a brief sojourn as a teacher at the school from 1963 to 1966. In 1956 he pursued his Teachers’ Training with Augustineum Training College in Okahandja until 1959. During the same year he also did his matric through correspondence studies with the College of South Africa.
In 1970 he obtained a Diploma in Central and State Bank Institutions in Karachi, Pakistan. He went on to obtain an Associate Degree in Arts from Robert Morris College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In 1975 he obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration, as well as gained admission to the Masters programme in industrial relations with the Temple University, Pennsylvania. During exile the late Ithana served as Chief Administrative Officer of the United Nations vocational Training Centre in Sumbe, Angola. He also served in the same capacity at the Swapo Department of Labour, at the party’s provisional headquarters in Luanda. He was a lecturer at the United Nations Institute for Namibia in Zambia, teaching the Accounting and Economics.
He served in various positions at the centre as of 1981 until 1990 when the centre was dissolved to allow for the repatriation of Namibians who were in exile.
He served as academic registrar at the centre from 1985 to 1990, as well as the acting chief administrative officer from 1986 to 1987. He co-owned HANAHE butchery with his wife Pendukeni.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.