Uncertain future for omitted ministers… as Namibia braces for first-ever Presidential Council

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By Mathias Haufiku

WINDHOEK – Four serving cabinet ministers have failed to make it onto President-elect Hage Geingob’s list of presidentially nominated parliamentarians, it emerged yesterday.
Health minister Dr Richard Kamwi, Dr David Namwandi (education), Isak Katali (mines and energy) and Joël Kaapanda (ICT) were not considered for a return to parliament, therefore eliminating any chances they had of a return to the National Assembly.
The four ministers did not make it within Swapo’s list of 77 members for parliament after last year’s general election, but their last hopes had been on Geingob appointing them on his list of eight nominees.
Several deputy ministers also did not make the Swapo parliamentary list and were not included on the president-elect’s list of eight nominees.
Yesterday Geingob announced his nomination of current ministers Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Jerry Ekandjo and Albert Kawana who also did not make the cut in last year’s election.
They are joined on the nominee list by Bishop Zephania Kameeta, Namcor Managing Director Obeth Kandjoze, medical doctor Bernard Haufiku, Hardap Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa and Heather Sibungo, whose last active involvement was with the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL).
The non-retention of Katali and Kamwi, coupled with the appointment of Kandjoze and Haufiku respectively, has been understood by some to mean that the two new nominees would replace the two exiting ministers.
Geingob yesterday also announced that he, Founding President Sam Nujoma and President Hifikepunye Pohamba would serve on what is to be called the Presidential Council. The country’s former prime ministers would also be invited to some deliberations of the council, Geingob announced.

“The two former presidents have garnered valuable experience over the years. These two icons and stalwarts of the struggle, Comrade Sam Nujoma and Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba, have 15 and 10 years’ experience respectively and will be engaged in advisory roles on the council,” Geingob reasoned.

Former prime ministers Theo-Ben Gurirab and Nahas Angula and deputy prime ministers Libertina Amathila and Marco Hausiku will at some stage be invited to attend the council’s meetings, including the person who will be announced as prime minister when Geingob announces his Cabinet next month.

The President-elect said the establishment of the council would be important for “camaraderie, consultation and continuity of government policies”.

The country will now wait for the announcement of Geingob’s new Cabinet, which for the first time will have a vice-president, a newly created portfolio.

While making the announcement, Geingob said Kameeta, Haufiku, Kandjoze and Sibungo have been chosen on the basis of expertise and gender.

“Of course you will have to guess their portfolios, as those will only be made known once the full picture of the next Cabinet is complete,” said Geingob.

Geingob referred to Iivula-Ithana, Ekandjo, Kawana and Hanse-Himarwa as “stalwarts of the Swapo Party”.

“In every democratic process there are winners and losers and therefore there are always casualties. However people who possess knowledge and expertise, which have been accumulated over the years, are of great value to government,” Geingob said.
With critics questioning why Geingob could not wait until he is inaugurated before announcing his nominees for both parliament and the Presidential Council, the president-elect explained that he decided to make the announcement to give the appointees who need to resign from their current employers enough time to do so.

“This is part of the practice of effective governance and is also good for transparency. It will also put an end to constant speculation which is the result of a vacuum of information, which the press ends up filling,” he said.

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