After a challenging five years, rocked by weak economic growth, unemployment and an internal rebellion within the ruling party, President Hage Geingob will be looking at securing a rock-solid legacy as he starts serving his final term tomorrow.
There is no doubt that Geingob carried the weight of Namibians’ expectations on his shoulders during his first years in office. But going into his final term, Geingob has kept faith in his trusted lieutenants by reappointing Nangolo Mbumba as vice president, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila as prime minister and Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as deputy prime minister. Their reappointments are largely seen as a way of neutralising potential internal discord within Swapo.
The party is currently grappling with intergenerational squabbling, with fierce opposition from within. Commentators, however, feel Geingob’s new lineup of Cabinet ministers would be instrumental in securing his legacy at the end of his term.
With the likes of safety and security minister Charles Namoloh and his labour counterpart Erkki Nghimtina unlikely to retain their roles in Cabinet,
it will be interesting to see the new picks in the leaner and restructured executive. The President is expected to announce his new Cabinet tomorrow after he takes oath of office.
Geingob knows the appointment of ministers is largely a regional and ethnic balancing act, with the need to appease supporters as well as inspiring confidence not only among investors but Namibians in general.
Ministers with the requisite skills and experience to deliver, especially on how to navigate out of the current economic problems, including curbing growing debt, reducing a huge public service wage bill and a disturbingly high unemployment rate, must be considered according to a commentator.
“Select and announce to the nation a strong team that can weather the storms of a divided and weakened party, socio-economic challenges, impatient youth, and the raging phenomenon of independent candidate,” said Phanuel Kaapama. “A team capable of retaining a collective focus and zeal for quick and tangible results in a number of key strategic areas.”
Another commentator Nico Horn says the new administration should be at the forefront of eliminating public wastage and tackling corruption.
“The year 2019 was marked by rumours of corruption. The prosecutor general announced that she closed the GIPF case where millions of dollars meant as loans were lost. No one will be prosecuted for lack of evidence, the PG said. Then the Fishrot scandal came up and prominent members of society were arrested,” Horn pointed out, imploring Geingob to leave a legacy in fighting corruption.
“While no one will be standing trial in the GIPF case to face the music for millions lost, the President will be respected by all Namibians if his government manages to put instruments in place to curb corruption and theft of public money. If the President manages to restore the trust of the nation in his government’s ability to root out corruption, he will go down in history as the leader who restored the trust of the people in the rule of law in Namibia.”
Nudo president Esther Muinjangue said she was confident Geingob would be bold in making decisions and taking action in his final term. She, however, advised the head of state to appoint officials who are competent, including in the fight against corruption.
“There were many government programmes that were approved and budgeted for. Many of those programmes are not implemented. That is what led to the downfall of the government administration,” she said.
“So, I hope the president will appoint ministers not for the sake of being ministers, but competent and skilled people who will implement and monitor government development programmes. The President must keep a close eye on development and on his ministers.”
Geingob this week already announced his new-look government structure, which includes 19 ministries reduced from 26. As part of the new changes, Geingob realigned the ministry of safety into the home affairs and immigration portfolio, while land reform and the ministry of agriculture and water have been merged.
The President also announced the merging of the gender, poverty eradication and social welfare ministries, which will now fall under the Presidency in the Office of the Vice President.
A minister in the Presidency will now oversee parliamentary affairs, while he or she will also act as the interface between regional governors and the head of state.
It will also be interesting to see who will be entrusted with the vital portfolio of running the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board, formerly known as the Namibia Investment Centre, which will now be structured within the Presidency.