The former CEO of the Electricity Control Board (ECB), Siseho Simasiku, died on Tuesday evening in the Katutura State Hospital following his hospitalisation last year after suffering a debilitating stroke. He was 68.
Former minister of health and social services Dr Richard Kamwi, who is Simasiku’s first cousin, and other impeccable sources, confirmed the death of Simasiku to New Era yesterday.
Kamwi said Simasiku had a massive stroke towards the end of last year.
“He had a double stroke, so much so that his brain was affected. We want to thank the government medical practitioners, in particular the nurses and doctors under the leadership of Dr Zatjirua and Dr Katjitai and many others,” said the grief-stricken former health minister.
Kamwi described Simasiku as an intellectual of note in the field of nuclear energy.
“He was my biological cousin. My first son is named after his father. We schooled together at primary level in Mabele in 1960. He was ahead of me by a year or so, he was my elder brother,” reminisced Kamwi.
Kamwi said that in 1964 under the influence of the then Caprivi African National Union (CANU) under the leadership of the late Brendan Simbwaye, Simasiku was one of the few young people who left for exile for Lusaka in neighbouring Zambia.
While in Zambia, Kamwi said, Simasiku joined Swapo and was identified to go study in Czechoslovakia, where he pursued a Master’s degree in science majoring in nuclear power plant construction and operation of nuclear power plants.
“From my knowledge, at independence he was the only Namibian who was a nuclear specialist. When he completed his Master’s degree, he went back to Zambia where he lectured at the University of Zambia as a nuclear specialist until the early 1980s when he came back to Namibia,” Kamwi said.
He also worked for the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (Zesco) for three years.
Kamwi said he was quite instrumental in many pieces of legislation related to nuclear energy in Namibia.
“I can tell you, unreservedly, that Namibia has lost a nuclear scientist. I have seen his degrees, they were all cum laude. So it’s a great loss, not only to us as a family but the nation has lost a giant in the field of energy.”
Kamwi explained that when Simasiku returned to Namibia he did not come back as a Swapo member.
“When he came back, according to him, there was the confusion brought by Mishake Muyongo in the then Caprivi. He then came to correct that Mishake should not mislead people in the region. He remained neutral until he joined the National Patriotic Front (NPF) as its vice-president. Then he remained there campaigning up until independence. And then after they lost to Swapo, I remember him joining government where he worked first in the ministry of works as an electrical specialist in nuclear power,” Kamwi noted.
After leaving NPF under the leadership of Moses Katjiuongua, Kamwi said, he re-joined Swapo at independence and died as a Swapo member.
He also worked at the Ministry of Mines and Energy in 1993 as a chief energy researcher. In 1995, he was appointed director of energy and in 1997 as the permanent secretary in the same ministry.
After his tenure as the PS at mines and energy, he then joined ECB in 2000 where he served for two five-year terms until July 2014 when he went on retirement.
One of his major accomplishments is the establishment of the Revolving Fund on Renewables.
The fund was established with the assistance of the German GTZ and the Norwegian NVE and is still operational. He is also credited with the establishment of the National Energy Policy.
ECB CEO Foibe Namene also paid tribute: “Mr Simasiku’s passing is not only a loss to his family, but a heavy loss to the energy sector in particular, and the Namibian nation in general. You can hardly talk about the Namibian energy sector without mentioning the name Siseho Simasiku.”
“We will remember him as the gentle giant of the Namibian ESI,” added Namene.
Simasiku also served on several boards including NamPower and NamDeb.
He is survived by his wife and six children.
He was born at Siseke sa Banyai in the Ngoma area.
Memorial and funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.