Shortly after assuming her new role as Minister of Information and Communication Technology on Friday, Emma Theofelus, gave thanks to her creator, saying: “This is God’s doing. He has done it once when I became the youngest deputy minister and now he has done it again, being the youngest minister in the country at the moment. I reflect on those who came before me”.
One of Africa’s youngest Cabinet ministers at 27, Theofelus was propelled into her new role by new President Nangolo Mbumba along with John Mutorwa, who, while holding the Works and Transport portfolio, is now also deputy prime minister.
Information minister Peya Mushelenga has been transferred to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, a role formerly held by new Vice President Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
Member of Parliament Modestus Amutse has been appointed to deputise Theofelus.
Theofelus said she will be emulating the journey of Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who was also 27 when she became the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), itself a Cabinet position.
“I am 27 right now, so it’s something I can reflect on, and emulate the work she was able to do,” she added.
The information minister plans to tap into the wisdom and guidance of other young ministers on the continent, like Bogolo Kenewendo of Botswana and others.
“I can actually get in touch with them to learn about their journey, and reflect on how I can add value to the portfolio as a young person at this level of governance,” she noted.
Theofelus was appointed by the late Hage Geingob as a deputy minister at 23. She was also the youngest deputy minister in the country then.
“I think more than ever now, with the trust that Dr Nangolo Mbumba has bestowed upon me, it only cements the trajectory Dr Hage Geingob has begun. He has trust and belief in the ability of young people in Namibia, and Dr Mbumba just cemented that. I think moving forward, any leader who wants the youth populace to have a seat at the decision-making table has to be intentional about it, and I am glad that journey has begun today,” the young leader observed.
She said she will ensure that communication between the government and citizens improves, and continue driving the digital transformation agenda.
“As you know, the ministry is tasked with digitalisation. We want to drive the digital agenda in government and countrywide so that we see a digital transformation in the processes around governance and also operations in the country,” she said, adding to the many other tasks of the ministry.
President Mbumba’s mini-Cabinet reshuffle on Friday saw appointments in the vacant positions created after his appointment as President following the death of former president Hage Geingob on 4 February 2024.
“Deputy prime minister and minister of international relations moved to the office of the Vice President and a vacancy was created, and we have been without a minister of international relations for some weeks now. It is also clear that the position of deputy prime minister does not go according to the portfolio in terms of this and that, meaning it goes to a person,” Mbumba explained.
Prior to joining Cabinet, Mutorwa held positions as a former school principal and regional commissioner in the Kavango region. He commenced his tenure in Parliament and Cabinet in 1992.
After his swearing-in, Mutorwa said he would carry out his responsibilities as deputy prime minister for the remainder of the term of office of the late president Hage Geingob, as indicated by Mbumba.
“President Nangolo Mbumba, when inaugurated, was very clear. Our duties and responsibilities in whatever position, either deputy prime minister or minister, are to assist and carry out our responsibilities for the remainder of the term of the late Hage Geingob, and that is what I will do and continue to do,” he told the media.
Mutorwa is expected to assist Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila with disaster risk management issues, and facilitate the development of small-to-medium enterprises.
On the other hand, the reshuffle also saw the rise of journalist-turned-politician Amutse from the structures of the Swapo Party to member of Parliament in 2022, and now deputy minister.
He previously worked as a journalist for NBC Oshiwambo radio before serving as a councillor for the Oshikuku constituency for 10 years.