|12. February 2018
Government reshuffle and intentions for more government efficiency
After the sacking of two ministers (Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Jerry Ekandjo) President Hage Geingob changed composition of his government further by shifting three Cabinet members who faced allegations in the media of overseeing offices blamed for rife corruption to other portfolios. Attorney general Sacky Shanghala will now be the new justice minister, mines minister Obeth Kandjoze the economic planning minister, while works minister Alpheus !Naruseb will be the new agriculture minister.
Tom Alweendo, the former economic planning minister, has replaced Kandjoze at mines and energy, former agriculture minister John Mutorwa was appointed as works minister, and the new attorney general is Albert Kawana, who was at the justice ministry. Presidential affairs minister Frans Kapofi has been moved to the home affairs ministry, replacing the dismissed Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana. Trade minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko has taken over from Kapofi.
Besides these changes, Geingob also rewarded former Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba with the vice presidency of the country, replacing Nickey Iyambo, who the President said had resigned yesterday.
Ngatjizeko's previous position as industrialisation minister now belongs to former information minister Tjekero Tweya, while deputy information minister Stanley Simataa has been promoted to information minister.
Civil society organisations who have been pushing for the access to information law have lauded Simataa for having a better understanding of issues than Tweya.
Deputy minister of international relations Peya Mushelenga is the new urban development minister, and Erastus Uutoni, who was the deputy home affairs minister, will now be the youth and sports minister.
The President reminded his ministers that those who do not perform will be fired. “The lack of teamwork between ministers, deputy ministers and permanent secretaries will not be tolerated,” he stressed, adding that dysfunctional relationships between officials will compromise service delivery.
“Incidents such as the delayed ordering of medication amount to inexcusable, gross negligence. School books not ordered and dispatched on time amount to gross injustice, as such systemic failures deny the Namibian child the constitutionally-ordained right to education,” he said.
Geingob added that perceptions of corruption continue to taint the government. “This has led the public to lose faith and confidence in some of our elected public office-bearers, and in some government ministries and agencies,” he noted. He said ministries are supposed to respond to these allegations within a specific time, as “this will enable me to fully understand the cause for the considerable unhappiness of the public towards the concerned ministries.”
The President said this exercise will not only provide further opportunity for those accused to defend themselves or rebut in cases where the allegations are false, but it would also enable him to take corrective measures where it is needed. The lifestyle audits to assess whether the salaries of public officials match their lifestyles has also started, and will be broadened. “Those found wanting shall be handed over to the relevant law enforcement agencies”, he stated. The Namibian understands that Geingob is aware of speculation that a minister received around N$12 million into his bank account.
In addressing the first Cabinet meeting of the year last week, Geingob said because of inefficiencies, bureaucratic bottlenecks and the slow pace of reform, the country continues to lose its standing on the global competitiveness ranking.
“Our investment climate has been perceived to be not conducive due to a lack of implementation of agreed-upon reforms. This has become an impediment to investment and economic growth,” said Geingob, who advised Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to expedite the implementation of reform measures.
Geingob also ordered the PM to conduct a bureaucratic bottleneck audit, and to decongest Namibia's systems and institutions.
(The Namibian, Windhoek)