President Hage Geingob’s announcement of his high-powered team of advisors yesterday was taken with a pinch of salt by some observers who believe the move leaves critical leadership vacuums at the appointed members’ current employers.
Albertus Aochamub, the NBC director general who recently oversaw the country’s migration from analogue to digital transmission, was announced press secretary in the presidency.
Aochamub is credited with relative improvements in NBC finances – among other achievements at the national broadcaster.
He replaces Mukwaita Shanyengana, who was moved to the office of the vice-president.
President Geingob also brought in Namdeb CEO Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, who has been part of negotiations that saw the diamond giant and most of its sister companies being owned in equal shares by government and De Beers.
Zaamwani-Kamwi will serve as the president’s constitutional advisor and private sector interface.
Ettiene Maritz will serve as the executive director in the Office of the President. He served as the deputy permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Former statistician general Dr John Steytler has been confirmed as the president’s advisor on economic matters.
Former CEO of Millennium Challenge Account Namibia, Penny Akwenye, has been appointed as the policy advisor on implementation and monitoring.
Former defence minister Phillemon Malima returns to government as new director general of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service. He replaces Lukas Hangula, who according to Geingob, has gone into retirement.
Outgoing Team Namibia CEO Daisry Mathias has been appointed as the president’s advisor on youth engagements. Mathias will step down as CEO on July 15, 2015.
An optimistic Geingob yesterday introduced what he labelled the ‘A-Team’, as he marked the first 100 days of his presidency.
Geingob spent most of his time making public his roadmap towards eliminating poverty in Namibia and outlining his vision to all Cabinet members as well as other stakeholders who play an important role in the rolling out of government programmes.
This included convening an induction seminar for Cabinet members, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries as well as requesting all ministers to submit declarations of intent that are in line with government goals.
Geingob set a high bar for transparency when he entered office, even going as far as voluntarily declaring his personal wealth.
The President admitted the new appointments would mean an increased wage bill, but he believes this is an expense worth having – given the contribution he anticipates from his new lieutenants.
Government continues to face high costs of maintaining the public service with over N$23 billion going to pay the salaries of more than 100 000 civil servants per annum.
Meanwhile, Geingob has listed a number of achievements of his first 100 days in office, including increasing to N$1 000 the monthly social grant paid to the country’s senior citizens.
Some commentators say it is too soon to judge Geingob’s work though.
In his first three months in office, Geingob has particularly been lauded for his hands-on leadership. This includes asking ministers to submit their declarations of intent – from which the key performance areas would be deduced.
He has also been very vocal on the need for ministers to cut on travelling – especially foreign trips, which are generally costly.
‘I am in charge’
Critics of the Geingob’s presidency were not sparred the rod yesterday, as the President used the occasion to deny claims that he was a mere smokescreen of his predecessors.
Having former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba on the envisaged presidential council has received criticism from those who argue that Geingob would remain in the shadow of the two former presidents.
“The council is not meant for my predecessors to tell me how to govern the country, I am in charge and I do my own thing,” he said.
The council is yet to convene for its debut sitting, which Geingob says would be during the course of this year.
The council comprises the two former presidents, prime ministers and deputy prime minister, among others.
Lifeline for Haingura
Meanwhile, former deputy health minister Petrina Haingura has been thrown a political lifeline after Geingob appointed her to parliament where the ruling party had a vacant seat.
Swapo has one opening, which is a result of the departure of Dr Nickey Iyambo, who is now the country’s vice-president.
Iyambo’s position on the ruling party’s list was taken up by education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who is at position 80 on Swapo’s parliamentary list.
Hanse-Himarwa was sworn-in as a member of parliament in March as one of the eight Presidential appointees. She did not have any voting rights.
With Hanse-Himarwa now in the National Assembly on her own accord, Geingob had one more appointment to make in order to fill his quota of eight appointees.