Profile: Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila

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Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who has been nominated to be Namibia’s first woman prime minister, entered the political limelight at the age of 27 when she was appointed the Director General of the National Planning Commission in 1995. She joined Swapo’s politburo in 2002 and in 2003 was appointed as the Minister of Finance, a position she’s held until now.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s tenure at the Ministry of Finance would be remembered for her ambitious fiscal targets, which she presented in her first full budget of 2004, of limiting government spending. She was eventually to present the country’s first ever budget surplus in 2006/07 and 2007/08. During her tenure the country employed serious fiscal discipline.

Born on October 12, 1967 at Otamanzi in Okahao, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila went into exile in 1980 at the age of 13, and continued with primary education at Koidus Girls Secondary School in Sierra Leone in 1984, before completing secondary education at St Joseph’s Secondary School in Sierra Leone in 1987. She then went to read for a Bachelor of Science in Economics at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, USA, from 1991 to 1994 when she graduated and returned home. Back in Namibia Kuugongelwa-Amadhila began working as a Desk Officer in the Office of the President under the presidency of the Founding President Sam Nujoma for a few months in 1995 before being assigned the role of Director General at the National Planning Commission.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila is credited as being a quick learner, having to learn walking the tight ropes within a few months at the helm of the National Planning Commission and for having to take over the country’s purse at a time when revenues were down due to declines in taxes from diamonds and other mining sectors.

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