Windhoek-President Hage Geingob yesterday announced his long-awaited Cabinet reshuffle, which see former Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba return to government as the country’s vice-president to replace Dr Nickey Iyambo, who resigned due to prolonged ailing health.Three deputy ministers were elevated to the level of minister, in sweeping changes that saw 12 ministers being appointed or reshuffled. On Iyambo, Geingob said: “I would like to thank him, son of the soil, my sober advisor, for the excellent service rendered to government throughout his political career.
I am aware that some suggest that the position of vice-president remain vacant. However, the only post that is optional, in the Constitution, is that of the deputy prime minister. The appointment of a vice-president is therefore obligatory, in our current Constitution,” Geingob said.
The president reshuffled the ministers of energy, works and transport, and the attorney-general – the three government office-bearers whose offices, according to the president, have in recent months attracted a raft of corruption allegations.
Although he is equally disturbed by corruption allegations at the ministry of health, no reshuffle took place at that ministry. Dr Andreas Mwoombola was moved from his position as permanent secretary at the health ministry and transferred to the Office of the Prime Minister. He had a fallout with health minister Dr Bernard Haufiku, who accused him of maladministration.
Geingob has written to the political heads of some government ministries requesting them to respond to allegations levelled against them or their ministries, within a specified period of time.
“This will enable me to fully understand the cause of the considerable unhappiness of the public towards the concerned ministries. This exercise would further provide opportunity for those accused to defend themselves or to rebut, in cases where allegations are unfounded, thus enabling me to take corrective measures, where need be,” he asserted.
Local columnist and commentator Dumba Kamwanyah reacted that this is a typical reshuffle in which ministers, including non-performers, were rewarded with new responsibilities.
“I don’t think it is a deep and strategic reshuffling in terms of skills, education, knowledge and experiences. But I also think that the president did not have a lot of options because he can only choose from the parliamentary list. That list does not offer much in terms of capable people to select from. So, it forced him to revert to the people he knew and worked with,” he commented.
Geingob’s new appointments and changes include the presidential affairs minister Frans Kapofi who replaces dismissed home affairs and immigration minister, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana.
Iivula-Ithana together with Jerry Ekandjo, until recently the sport, youth and national service minister, were both rivals to Geingob and his slate during the November 2017 Swapo elective congress where Geingob and his slate won convincingly.
Ekandjo and Iivula-Ithana will remain ordinary Swapo backbenchers in the National Assembly. Iivula-Ithana made it to parliament through Geingob’s presidential list in 2015.
Yesterday’s changes means Mbumba will resign from parliament, which would pave the way for Elifas Dingara to join parliament as the next candidate on the ruling party’s parliamentary list.
This week New Era revealed that deputy minister of labour Alpheus Muheua has resigned from his ministerial post due to poor health and might leave parliament too. This would make businesswoman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun the next candidate eligible to join parliament on the Swapo ticket.
Immanuel Ngatjizeko who headed industrialisation, trade and SME development takes over the presidential affairs portfolio.
Ekandjo has been replaced by former deputy minister of safety and security, Erastus Utoni.
Sophia Shanigwa’s position as minister of urban and rural development has been taken over by deputy minister of international relations and cooperation Peya Mushelenga.
After winning at the November 2017 Swapo elective congress, Shaningwa will take up the full-time job of Swapo secretary-general at the party’s headquarters in Katutura.
Geingob also moved Tom Alweendo to the mines and energy portfolio while his former position has been taken up by Obeth Kandjoze, who is now the minister in charge of the National Planning Commission.
Alpheus! Naruseb who was at works and transport will now head the agriculture, water and forestry ministry, swapping with John Mutorwa who has moved to !Naruseb’s position.
Geingob also swapped justice minister Albert Kawana with Sacky Shanghala who was the attorney-general.
Minister Tjekero Tweya has been moved to the industrialisation, trade and SME development ministry where Katjizeko was.
Tweya has been replaced by his deputy minister Stanley Simataa at information and communication technology.
With the three new appointments done which are all deputy ministers who have been promoted, Geingob described the move as part of his leadership succession-planning, which he says is testament that government does mold young people through the system.
He is yet to announce the deputy ministers to fill the vacancies of those who were promoted to full ministerial positions.
Geingob congratulated all the newly-appointed ministers in their new assignments, saying he will expect nothing but a total and effective performance of duties.
He threatened to demote any of his Cabinet ministers who fail to perform as expected.
“I am counting on every one of us to step up the implementation of government programmes. We cannot continue at the same pace and mindset and somehow expect a different outcome. We cannot continue to make promises and not reckon. This is the year of reckoning, during which we will account to the people. We will hold ministers accountable and they in turn are expected to hold their officials to account,” he cautioned his Cabinet.