WINDHOEK - Despite the fact the dismissed Health and Social Services Minister Dr Bernard Haufiku yesterday accepted his appointment letter as Special Advisor on health issues in the Office of the Presidency- he was tight-lipped on his new role.
President Hage Geingob on Wednesday relieved Haufiku from the ministerial portfolio and replaced him with Dr Kalumbi Shangula as the new health minister.
Shangula was yesterday morning sworn-in as Minister in the National Assembly and minutes later took his oath at State House in the presence of Geingob, Vice-President Nangolo Mbumba, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and other senior government officials.
After the oath taking ceremony, the media was informed Mbumba will be meeting Haufiku at the old State House to be handed his appointment letter as health advisor to the Presidency.
When journalists went to the old State House, Haufiku who arrived in the boardroom in the company of Mbumba seemed shell-shocked to find the media waiting for him and his body language was an indication he was not aware the media will be present.
“I should have been informed the media will be here,” he said before he took his seat next to Mumba. Mbumba then proceeded to explain to him the present journalists had already witnessed the swearing-in at Parliament and oath taking at State House.
“Because of your appointment as Special advisor to the whole Presidency on Health and Social Services issues. My duty here is just to hand over the letter of appointment. The appointment signature is not by the Vice-President but the President. Only the President has the power to appoint people to specific positions. We must understand that. He will be advising like all the other senior advisers at State House,” Mbumba explained.
He then handed over the appointment letter to Haufiku who accepted it.
Haufiku refused to say anything when asked by the media on his new appointment and when the media persisted with more questions, he said, “Honourable VP, can I just maybe be granted the right to remain silent.”
Mbumba then said Haufiku has accepted his letter of appointment before the brief meeting ended.
At State House during Shangula’s oath taking ceremony as new health minister, Geingob told him he is now heading a challenging ministry and hence called on him to work collectively with the entire health sector that is beset by numerous challenges.
“As you know comrade that you took the oath. People forget that they are taking the oath. They forget and talk, as they want when they say ‘I won’t divulge anything discussed in Cabinet’. So, you took the oath, stay by the oath. You are assuming a very difficult task. The country is going through difficult periods. Knowing your commitment and patriotism, I hope you will unite the ministry and address burning issues in consultation with all of us,” Geingob told Shangula.
He thanked Haufiku for his role, saying he is a hands-on person, hence he appointed him as Special Advisor on health-related issues to serve the nation with no personal egos.
Geingob said Shangula served in various public service positions since 1990, including Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Services and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as well as portfolios in the Swapo Party.
Shangula thanked Geingob for the challenge, but said he still have to familiarise himself with the ministry.
“I am coming to the ministry from outside. I still have to consult the team on the ground to tackle the challenges that are there,” he noted.
Shangula however said historically, the ministry has always been challenged with lack of medical supplies. Hence, he said he will address the root causes, so there will be medical supplies at all public facilities.
On those who criticised his appointment, that Geingob is removing a 52-year-old Haufiku and replacing him with a 70-year-old who retired from the health ministry many years ago as new minister, Shangula said Namibia is an open society and everyone is entitled to their own opinions.
Shangula holds a Master of Business Administration from Maastricht School of Management (Netherlands). He also served on a number of public and private sector boards, including the Advisory Board of the University of Namibia’s School of Medicine.