THE above title is the natural question one is compelled to ask with the announcement of the new Cabinet by Dr Hage Geingob, our new president.
While posing this question one cannot at the same time but also reflect if the Cabinet is by any means a surprise? Yes and no. Yes, if one is allowed to go back to the very first announcement, that of the top three, namely the Vice-President (VP), Prime Minister (PM) and Deputy Prime Minister (DPM).
The first being the choice of Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, as PM over and above Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, her senior but now deputising her.
Not so much in terms of age, and neither in terms of integrity but if solely in the Swapo hierarchies. As well as being entrusted with Deputy Prime Ministership, Nandi-Ndaitwah has also now been assigned the same portfolio as she had but which has been renamed International Relations and Cooperation.
There’s no doubting the vigour, dedication and hard work of both the appointed PM and DPM. But granting perhaps the younger age of Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and as a corollary perhaps more energy, HE’s choice of her as PM above Nandi-Ndaitwah is not self-evident or self-explanatory.
One also wonders whether International Relations should not ordinarily have come under the VP to bring this portfolio closer to the Presidency as the first port of both entry into the country and exit out of it. Has our foreign policy or relations, remotely deposited in the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, really been effective?
Yes, poverty is undeniably one of the pressing if not most pressing problem that Namibia inherited from the colonial dispensation. Despite the relative economic growth that the country has been experiencing, poverty seems to have been worsening.
But can poverty be addressed by the simple existence of a structure with a name related to the problem? I am less convinced. Nor by an individual just because he has not only expressed himself against poverty but is furiously dedicated to the alleviation thereof, if not the total eradication of poverty as Dr Zephania Kaameta has proven himself through the Basic Income Grant (BIG), in which he has been actively and dedicatedly engaged. Yes, one cannot fault Dr Kameeta’s aversion to poverty and his practical approach and passion for its alleviation and eradication.
But does it mean all these years the government has been waiting for a saviour in the person of Dr Kameeta? What have hitherto been its approaches and strategies to poverty alleviation and eradication that Dr Kameeta can and should now realistically build on and be expected to build on if he is to deliver in this regard?
Because it is a non-starter if Dr Kameeta has to be the only believer in the need to reduce, alleviate and ultimately eradicate poverty, without the rest of Dr Hage’s A-Team similarly and equally being concerned and believing in it not as a new realisation but as a matter of legacy left by the previous governments and administrations.
Also, 25 years after independence, given the impoverished society that we inherited from the previous dispensation, should poverty reduction, alleviation and reduction not have already been a concerted consistent priority of the previous governments, and for Dr Geingob’s team to have been bequeathed with only a push forward rather than tackling the social evil anew?
This presupposes different government policies and strategies to already have been in place. But perhaps for either lack of political will or willpower, this does not seem to have been happening all these years? In Dr Geingob we eventually seem to have such a person. With the added advantage in the personal and political willpower, and the persona and character of Dr Kameeta. But that can only be if the whole country is involved, through a frontal attack ala the President, Cabinet and Dr Kameeta. This can only be if the country does not shift and heap such responsibilities on him alone but become part of a concerted effort in this regard not only in terms of doing but also in conviction in it as a scourge of the Namibian soil.
Our men and women in blue and other colours surely need some morale boosting not to speak of leadership. Whether a retired lieutenant general is the answer remains to be seen. But ultimately nothing more than proper provision for them in terms of remuneration and the basics could go a long way in helping restore such an evidently low morale.
It cannot be denied nor be debated that the Namibian education system, from A to Z, has for long been crying out for serious attention. In particular there is no denying the fact that the country has been in urgent need of a strong education foundation starting from primary level to feed subsequent levels. The woes in education at the higher level, and eventually tertiary level, may just as well be factored in how learners are prepared from the beginning.
Thus, there is definitely a correlation between the various levels of education. Hence as much due attention is needed and paid to secondary and tertiary education, due regard must also be given to the foundation of education in this country. Whether such has been done, and that whether who have been entrusted with this portfolio, can and shall elevate it to its essential to remedy the situation, only time will tell. Suffice to say that those entrusted with education at both levels may take some time before they can realistically provide the panacea, if they shall ever do so in their tenure.