FORMER Prime Minister Nahas Angula could only utter the words “I feel great” a few hours after he was demoted from prime minister to minister of defence in a Cabinet reshuffle by President Hifikepunye Pohamba yesterday.
Angula, who received the highest votes in the Central Committee at the weekend’s Swapo congress, declined to comment further. Angula looked disappointed after the announcement was made.
Pohamba before the Swapo congress declined to back Angula for the vice president nomination and instead threw his weight behind his deputy, Hage Geingob. Angula then refused to enter the race.
Out of 24 ministers, including the prime minister, his deputy and the director general of the National Planning Commission, 12 were redeployed in one of the biggest Cabinet reshuffles the country has seen since independence.
The reshuffle came two days after the Swapo Party congress which re-elected Hage Geingob as the party’s vice president. Geingob will now lead the government as prime minister, departing from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Pohamba made the announcement at State House yesterday where he summoned most of the ministers and revealed his revamped Cabinet that did not include outspoken former Youth Minster Kazenambo Kazenambo.
A bubbly Kazenambo told The Namibian that he was “very, very happy” about the reshuffle, adding that this was what he had been waiting for.
“I congratulate President Hifikepunye Pohamba for the steps he has taken to reshuffle the Cabinet.
I believe this is a step taken to stabilise our government system because it was really shaky and there was a lot of infighting and pressure. I’m not bitter and I’m not angry that I’m no longer minister. I was tired and I’m now going to rest and enjoy my life,” Kazenambo said.
Kazenambo does not feature in Pohamba’s new plans.
For Geingob, it’s a change of fortunes 12 years after being pushed out as prime minister by former President Sam Nujoma.
Geingob told The Namibian after the announcement that he felt “great and honoured” following his re-election as party vice president over the weekend.
“I would like to pay tribute to the former prime minister. He did an excellent job. We will sit and talk about where he left,” Geingob added.
Asked how it felt to be returning to the position he previously held for 12 years, Geingob smiled, walked and said, “Let’s not go there”.
The Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development will be without Jerry Ekandjo, who is moving to the Ministry of Youth and Sport. Charles Namoloh is replacing Ekandjo.
Ekandjo replaces Kazenambo, who has been stripped of his portfolio as minister of youth.
Kazenambo had a number of run-ins with the Swapo Party Youth League and the ‘children of the liberation struggle’ and was also involved in a public spat with the secretary of the youth league.
“I was tired. My doctors warned me five years ago that if I didn’t take it slow, I was going to collapse. I’m taking this reshuffle in a positive light, this is something I was looking forward to. I’m a principled person and I know I wasn’t removed because I’m incompetent. This will now give me time to concentrate on projects that I could only tend to on a part-time basis as I continue to serve my party,” Kazenambo said yesterday.
The decision to redeploy Jerry Ekandjo to the Youth Ministry is also seen as connecting the youth with the man they wanted as the next president.
Comment could not be obtained from Ekandjo at the time of going to press although questions were sent to his office as requested.
Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana moves to the Ministry of Home Affairs while former Minister Rosalia Nghidinwa goes to Gender Equality and Child Welfare.
Iivula-Ithana, who over the weekend was defeated in the party’s vice presidential race, said she was eager to take up her post at Home Affairs.
“I was told that there are a lot of challenges facing that ministry. I’m a person who can take on challenges and have sufficient energy to address such challenges. But I first will study the situation and then see how we will proceed for the future but I want to make a difference,” Iivula-Ithana said.
Immanuel Ngatjizeko goes to Safety and Security to replace the newly elected secretary general of the Swapo Party, Nangolo Mbumba, who will serve the party full time.
Calle Schlettwein, who served as deputy minister of finance, has been moved up to become the minister of trade and industry, replacing Geingob.
Schlettwein’s position at Finance remains vacant and it is believed that the government wants to appoint a person with the required technical skills to the post.
“I’m of the opinion that the ministry is pivotal in taking the country into prosperity. I will continue with the group efforts of Minister Geingob which accumulated into the industrial policy which paved the way to address the challenges of the country,” Schlettwein said.
Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who was at Environment and Tourism, moves back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she served for years as deputy minister, replacing Utoni Nujoma.
The young Nujoma has been reassigned to the Ministry of Justice.
Former Gender Minster Doreen Sioka is now the minister of labour and social welfare in the place of Ngatjizeko, who moved to Safety and Security.
Another deputy minister was also promoted to the full rank of the minister. Uahekua Herunga was promoted from deputy minister of environment to head the ministry.
A number of deputy ministers were reshuffled, but no one lost his or her job.
Petrus Ilonga and Lempy Lukas will be swopping places at Agriculture and Defence.
Pohamba Shifeta, who was at the Ministry of Youth, becomes Herunga’s deputy at Environment.
Kilus Nguvauva has been redeployed to the Ministry of Works and Transport from the Ministry of Fisheries. He is swapping places with Chief Samuel Ankama.
Pohamba also announced the redeployment of some regional governors.
Laura McLeod-Katjirua, who was elected the deputy secretary general of Swapo at the weekend congress, has been appointed as governor of the Khomas Region and will be replaced by Otjozondjupa Governor Rapama Kamehozu in the Omaheke Region.
Samuel Nuuyoma made space for McLeod-Katjirua as the governor of the Khomas Region and will fill the post left vacant by Kamehozu.
The latest reshuffle is seen as a move by Pohamba to prepare for the transformation process that will pave the way for Geingob if he wins the country’s presidency in 2015.
Noticeable proof is that ministers that were campaigning for Geingob to be re-elected as vice president of the party were moved to key ministries.
Namoloh, Schlettwein and Ndaitwah all publicly supported Geingob.