21 February 2013

Namibia: Swapo's Mbumba Assuages Critics

Windhoek — Swapo Party Secretary General (SG) Nangolo Mbumba has assured those critical of his presence in Cabinet that he only attends meetings as a guest of President Hifikepunye Pohamba and this does not mean he draws an allowance.

His defence come amidst an uproar by opposition parties that object strongly to him attending Cabinet meetings, while he is no longer a minister. Mbumba relinquished his ministerial post as Safety and Security Minister during last year's elective congress of the ruling party when he contested and clinched the position of Swapo SG on a full-time basis.

During the opening session of the first Cabinet meeting of the year 2013 last week, Pohamba said the fifth congress of the Swapo Party, which was held towards the end of last year, adopted a number of important resolutions and policy positions.

"It is important that these policy positions are converted into practical programmes to address the development challenges facing our people and to develop our country," Pohamba told Cabinet ministers.

In order to co-ordinate the implementation of government policies, Pohamba explained that he invited Mbumba to attend the proceedings of Cabinet.

On the question whether the SG was only invited to attend last week's session, or whether he would attend regularly like other members of the Cabinet, Mbumba said he would attend only at the president's invitation and that there is nothing "unusual about it".

"It is not the first time that a SG sits in Cabinet. The late Moses Garoeb also used to sit. When you sit there you don't make decisions, but listen for the benefit of the development of the country. Even the Director General of the National Planning Commission (Tom Alweendo) attends Cabinet, but he is not a minister and does not sit in parliament. But upon invitation, they come and listen and give advice where necessary. It is nothing unusual. I am told it is part of my job to sit there, I don't get a cent to sit there," he said.

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