9 April 2008

Namibia: Cabinet Shake Up

Windhoek — President Hifikepunye Pohamba yesterday made his first Cabinet reshuffle, which saw the return of Namibia's first Prime Minister, Hage Geingob, to Cabinet.

Although the reshuffle affects 10 ministers and six deputy ministers, only two new faces were introduced to the new Cabinet.

Swapo Party vice president, Geingob, has been appointed Minister of Trade and Industry, while former Namibia's Ambassador to Germany, Peter Katjavivi, is the new Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC).

Minister of Agriculture, Water and Fores-try, Nickey Iyambo, has moved to the Ministry of Safety and Security, replacing Peter Shirumbu who is reportedly ill.

John Mutorwa is now the new Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. He has been replaced by Willem Konjore at the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture.

Pohamba appointed Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as Minister of Environment and Tourism.

Former Trade and Industry Minister, Immanuel Ngatjizeko, has moved to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, replacing Alpheus !Naruseb who is now Minister of Lands and Resettlement.

Jerry Ekandjo has filled the position of Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, which was left vacant following the tragic death of John Pandeni.

Addressing a press conference at the new State House, Pohamba announced his decision to re-organise two ministries, namely the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

He said he has decided to place the information and communication technology portfolios under one roof and thus the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will be known as the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology will now be headed by Joel Kaapanda, while the former Director General of the NPC, Helmut Angula, is Minister of Works and Transport.

Local economic and political experts reacted to the reshuffle with mixed feelings.

Political analyst, Bill Lindeke, said the re-shuffle is a recycle of old faces and thus it is disappointing, as the Cabinet needs new blood.

He noted that the most significant appointment is that of Geingob as the ministry has been performing poorly over the last two years.

Lindeke said although the appointment of Geingob comes two years late, the ministry is now equipped with a strong minister and strong permanent secretary and can produce results.

Lindeke, however, said he was disappointed that Angula has been moved from the NPC, adding that Angula has done good work especially internationally and he was making good progress.

The political analyst said he is not convinced that Katjavivi has the administrative skills to run the NPC.

Lindeke added that he is not excited about the appointment of Nandi-Ndaitwah as Minister of Environment and Tourism as the ministry is key to employment creation if managed properly.

The political analyst said the technical issues of environment and tourism will be beyond Nandi-Ndaitwah and she could have been given the position of party chief whip in Parliament because she is very political and administration is not her strength.

The Deputy Dean of Economics at the University of Namibia (Unam), Omu Kakujaha-Matundu, said he was pleased with the appointment of Geingob as the Minister of Trade and Industry.

The economist said Geingob has in the past shown passion for international trade and contributed positively to debates on trade agreements such as the SADC EPA and other internal trade accords.

Kakujaha-Matundu added that he is also happy with the appointment of !Naruseb at the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement and said the ministry needed a 'coolheaded' minister like !Naruseb as it is a sensitive ministry which can scare investors.

The economist also welcomed the appointment of Katjavivi, saying he has proven to be a good mobiliser of resources and his experience working in Europe will add value to his new position.

The re-shuffle of the deputy ministers is as follows:

Bernard Esau - Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy

Teopolina Mushelenga - Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry

Isak Katali - Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry

Paul Smit - Deputy Minister of Works and Transport

Henock ya Kasita - Deputy Minister of Lands and Resettlement

Stephanus Mogotsi - Deputy Minister of Homes Affairs and Immigration

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