Windhoek – The National Assembly (NA) is currently in search of a new secretary to replace Jakes Jacobs, whose term ended last month. Jacobs has in the meantime been appointed as a technical advisor to coach the incoming secretary, who is expected to start next month.
Jacobs served as secretary of the NA since 2009. National Assembly Speaker Professor Peter Katjavivi recently informed lawmakers that Jacobs would serve in the role of parliamentary advisor for six months.
The minutes of last Wednesday’s parliamentary sitting state that, “On his own behalf and that of the members, the Speaker thanked Mr Jacobs for the commitment he has shown as secretary and reported that in view of the exchange, Findley Harker, the deputy secretary of the National Assembly, will act as secretary until a new secretary is appointed.”
NA insiders, however, claim that Harker can fulfill the role of coaching the incoming secretary, given that he is well acquainted with the parliamentary system, instead of spending extra funds to compensate Jacobs for advisory services.
The prerogative to appoint a new secretary lies with the Speaker though, as per the provisions of the Constitution and Katjavivi explained that Jacobs’ services over the next six months would facilitate a smooth transition.
“I asked the Public Service Commission to allow me to have him [Jacobs] as technical advisor for the interim until we recruit a new person. During the six months he will wind up and assist the new secretary,” Katjavivi said. He was not prepared to disclose the fee payable to Jacobs for his services as an advisor.
According to the Constitution – subject to the provisions of the laws pertaining to the public service and the directives of the NA – the Speaker has the power to appoint or designate a person in the public service to serve as secretary of the NA.
“The secretary shall perform the functions and duties assigned by the Constitution or by the Speaker. Subject to the laws governing the control of public monies, the secretary shall perform his or her functions and duties under the control of the Speaker,” reads Article 52 of the Constitution.
Katjavivi told New Era on Tuesday that Jacobs’ successor has already been found, but declined to divulge the identity of the candidate. According to the Speaker, “We have now found a new candidate and the documentation is currently being processed to pave the way for the recruitment.”
Jacobs turned 60 last year, but his term was extended to enable him to finalise some pending matters after former Cabinet Secretary Frans Kapofi last year recommended an extension.
“It is true that I made the recommendation, because there were a few incomplete things. I recommended that he stays on for six months or a year. There is nothing illegitimate about the extension. Although he wanted to retire in September he could not leave things incomplete,” said Kapofi at the time.
Jacobs is the fifth secretary of the National Assembly. Andre Kilian was the country’s first secretary to the National Assembly after serving in that position from 1990-1996. He was succeeded by Stephanie Winson (1997-2000), Moses Ndjarakana (2001-2005) and Simon Goabab (2006-2009).
by Mathias Haufiku