Windhoek-President Hage Geingob is preparing to go on vacation and his programme of activities prior to his departure does not give any hint of a looming Cabinet reshuffle, presidency officials said yesterday.
After tightening his grip on Swapo Party, having been elected as its president a week ago, President Geingob is widely expected to announce changes in government – starting with the appointment of a new minister of urban and rural development. This, after incumbent Minister Sophia Shaningwa was elected to the fulltime position of
Swapo secretary-general at the party’s recent 6th elective congress.
Having consolidated his control over the central committee and politburo, Geingob is now in a better position to ring changes to his government, if he so desires. Last week’s reshuffling of major local authority councils on the instructions of Shaningwa offered the clearest indication yet of a potential Cabinet reshuffle in the works.
Several mayors, deputy majors and members of management committees of major municipalities, such as Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Tsumeb, were demoted to the status of ordinary council members.
Media reports yesterday suggested that those demoted were opposed to the election of Geingob as Swapo president and their demotion was seen as punishment for their choice of candidates.
Yesterday, Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi, during a casual lunch engagement with local editors at State House, said he was not aware of any Cabinet reshuffle being planned.
“I have seen the president’s programme of activities for the remaining weeks before his vacation and I didn’t see an event where the media is being invited for any major announcement,” he said, rather lightly.
Kapofi said President Geingob was conscious of the need to maintain order in the country and whatever decision he makes would be geared towards preserving unity in both Swapo and the Namibia at large.
Political analyst Dr Hoze Riruako, speaking to Nampa yesterday, predicted a youthful, energetic Cabinet if the president pushes ahead with a reshuffle. He said although it was too early to predict who the president would appoint to which ministry, Cabinet would definitely be made up of informed leaders, who are skilled and have expertise in their respective fields. “It would not be a surprise if the president keeps the old ministers, who even though they did not make it onto the central committee list, have made a great impact in the country, within their ministries,” Riruako noted.
He pointed to the likes of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare Minister Zephania Kameeta, Higher Education and Innovation Minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi and Mines and Energy Minister Obeth Kandjoze, among others, and said these are key ministries that are close to the president’s heart.
“The type of Cabinet could also be influenced by the type of government Geingob is working towards. It could also depend merely on merit, keeping in mind that he had requested people to submit their CVs when he took up the presidency.”
Riruako complimented the president on the six members he recently appointed to the party central committee, noting the sense of gender balance, youth and the presence of some of “the old guard”.
“Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein, Defence Minister Penda Ya Ndakolo, as well as Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Erkki Nghimtina are some of the old notable loyalists the president decided to appoint, and I am sure this is for their exceptional work,” Riruako noted.
President Geingob also appointed Christina //Hoebes, currently a deputy minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, the youthful Jennery Matundu, a chief community liaison officer in the Ministry of Gender at Opuwo in the Kunene Region, as well as retired schoolteacher Coleen van Wyk from the Rehoboth West Constituency.
– Additional reporting by Nampa