New Era (Windhoek)

22 March 2013

Namibia: Nangolo Mbumba: the Advisor, Teacher and Swapo's Most Trusted Administrator (1941 ...)

Windhoek — He may have played other equally important roles in his capacity as government minister and member of the Swapo Party, however, of utmost importance is that Nangolo Mbumba is noted to have earned himself a legacy as a trusted administrator, advisor and one of the educators of the Namibian refugee community in exile.

Graham Hopwood writing in the Guide for Namibian Politics says that Mbumba "is one of Swapo's most trusted administrators". He writes further: "Before independence he was the advisor to both Hage Geingob and Sam Nujoma."

Mbumba was born on the 15th of August, 1941, at Olukonda village in Oshikoto Region. He obtained a Bachelor of Science degree at the Southern Connecticut State College in 1971 in the United States of America and went on to do his Master's in Science in 1973.

Even though he is mostly known as one of the Namibian educators in exile, his teaching career started in the United States. Before he rejoined the Namibian community in exile in Africa, Mbumba taught science and mathematics in the U.S.

"My professional career as a teacher started in 1975 when I taught science and mathematics at Harlem Preparatory School in New York. Later, I became involved in the Swapo educational system in exile. In sequence, I have held the posts as Head of the Science Department at Kwanza Sul and Head of the Department of Education and Teachers Training at the United Nations Institute for Namibia (UNIN) in Zambia," Mbumba said in a newsletter published by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1994.

His active political career started in 1985 when he was appointed as Deputy Secretary for Education and Culture. Two years later he was appointed as Personal Secretary to Nujoma. Perhaps owing to his noted trustworthy administrative ability, he was appointed as advisor on administrative matters during the 1989 elections.

After Namibia attained its independence on the 21st of March 1990, he became Secretary to Cabinet from 1990 until 1992. During that time, he also served as the Chief Executive Officer for the Joint Administrative Authority, a body that was tasked to oversee the reintegration of Walvis Bay to Namibia. In 1993, he was a member of the National Assembly.

Since then he held a succession of ministerial posts in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development from (1993-1996), Finance (1996 - 2003), Information and Broadcasting (2003-2005), Education (2005-2010) and Safety and Security (2010- 2012).

Commenting on Mbumba's tenure as Minister of Finance, Hopwood noted that Mbumba was "praised for his calm head, sticking to market-oriented policies and successfully introducing VAT." He also during that time played a part in establishing the new Central Governance Agency to oversee parastatals, and he introduced the Medium-term Expenditure Framework and important fiscal targets for the budget deficit.

Although after independence Mbumba is more of a political leader, than the educator he was in exile, he still continues to contribute to the country's education system. "My academic interest goes to the history of our country on which I did substantial research. I am the co-author of three history books of which one is used in our junior secondary schools."

Mbumba is currently serving as full time Secretary General of Swapo Party.

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