6 December 2012

Namibia: Kamwi?s Day Still Coming

THE outstanding outcome of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the state of the public health sector seems to have saved the job of Health Minister Richard Kamwi when he escaped unscathed from Monday’s Cabinet reshuffle.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba in August ordered the commission – chaired by retired High Court Judge Simpson Mtambanengwe – to provide feedback on its findings within four months. The president said he wants to see value for the money that the government spends on the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

The revamped Cabinet announced on Monday saw the demotion of several ministers and the promotion of others. Kamwi’s position did not change.

Political commentators whom The Namibian spoke to were not surprised that Kamwi survived the axe.

Professor Bill Lindeke said the fate of Kamwi’s job might depend on the outcome of the commission.

“If it’s really bad then he will be gone. Health is a major sector. However, with that said, the ministry has made progress in various areas,” he said.

He added that Pohamba might prefer to continue with Kamwi heading the ministry for the sake of continuity despite the outcome of the commission.

The latest reshuffle was seen as a move by Pohamba to prepare for the transformation that will pave the way for Hage Geingob to State House if he wins the presidential election in 2014.

The head of the political department at the University of Namibia, Victor Tonchi, said the commission might cost Kamwi his job, adding that Pohamba played his cards right by not removing the health minister.

He said that would have been seen as taking revenge for Kamwi’s supporting Jerry Ekandjo in the Swapo vice presidential race, while the party has appealed for unity after the congress.

Efforts to get comment from Kamwi were unsuccessful, as he was out of the country.

Another ministry that has been in the news, mostly for all the wrong reasons, is the Works and Transport Ministry, still headed by Erkki Nghimtina.

Under his administration, parastatals such as the Roads Authority, Namibia Airports Company, Road Fund and TransNamib are currently without permanent chief executive officers.

Former Gender and Social Welfare Minister Doreen Sioka is expected to find the going tough at the Labour and Social Welfare Ministry.

Lindeke said Pohamba probably assessed Sioka’s access to the leadership of the unions before appointing her to the ministry. “She has got closer connection to the union leaders but the problem with most of these strikes is the fact that there is a lack of communication between them [union leaders] and their members,” he added.

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