Analysts yesterday lauded the new executive team announced by President Hage Geingob, saying the
Cabinet would be essential in steering the country forward. Geingob made some bold appointments, including moving Calle Schlettwein to the agriculture, water and land reform from the finance portfolio, which is now headed by former Bank of Namibia governor Ipumbu Shiimi. Geingob also elected not to retain some of the veterans in his old Cabinet by infusing younger, fresh blood. He also appointed an opposition leader and Nudo President Esther Muinjangue as deputy health minister. Another notable appointment is that of 23-year-old Emma Theofilus who was named as deputy minister of information and communication technology. Commentator Graham Hopwood said it was important for the head of state to clear out some of the underperforming ministers and those ready for retirement. “There is welcome progress towards a 50:50 gender balance in Cabinet while the issue of generational change has been recognised - particularly in the appointments of Emma Theofilus and Yvonne Dausab,” said Hopwood, adding he was surprised by the omission of Stanley Simataa who was generally seen to be doing a good job at the information ministry.
The appointment of the untested Shiimi to finance is certainly a risk but many will be reassured by his technical expertise. However, he has an almost impossible job. Taking on the finance portfolio was always going to be difficult but now he has to deal with the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis.
It is going to be very difficult for Shiimi to balance the need to provide an economic stimulus against the imperative of controlling Namibia’s debt situation,” he added. Hopwood also praised the ‘smart’ political move to appoint Muinjangue as deputy minister.
“The appointment of Esther Muinjangue is a smart political move which conveniently means that if Nudo is in a formal alliance with Swapo there is a two-thirds majority.” Hopwood was seemingly not impressed with Albert Kawana continuing as fisheries minister. He also felt the gender equality portfolio would have gone to someone else. “As in the past - the need to reward loyalists and achieve an ethnic balance across Cabinet has trumped qualities like capability to deliver. Fisheries needed a new face - someone who is a champion of the anti-corruption cause. Unfortunately, Albert Kawana has already shown that he is not committed to accountability and transparency. The other re-appointment that is undeserved is Doreen Sioka at gender equality - she has not given the important cause of tackling GBV the necessary leadership.” Namibia University of Science and Technology senior lecturer Admire Mare praised the appointment of Shiimi, saying it would bring the much-needed financial skills required to reboot the economy. “Equally important is the appointment of Nudo president into the Cabinet, it has the net effect of unifying the country and demonstrate the willingness of the president to appoint the best team based on merit rather than political affiliation,” he said. “The appointment of a 23-year deputy minister will certainly give the youth renewed hope that they can occupy important leadership roles in society.” Mare remains optimistic that the hopes of Namibians have been reignited and implored the newly appointed ministers and their deputies to work towards building a united and prosperous Namibia. Ndumba Kamwanyah from the University of Namibia was also impressed with the Cabinet choices. “The good thing of having a new team with new faces is that they are clean and not tainted by the perception of corruption. But such balanced team could also be a limitation because some people may have been brought in for the purpose of trying to balance the representation, therefore they may lack necessary skills required,” he said.
See pages 12-17 for the entire list of Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and other key appointments.