13 March 2019

Namibia: Steytler Breaks Silence On Resignation

Windhoek — Former presidential economic advisor Dr John Steytler said he left his cushy State House job for personal reasons - dismissing wide assertions that he fell out with President Hage Geingob.

Steytler told New Era upon enquiry yesterday that he resigned for personal reasons linked to the death of his elder sister last year.

"I've had problems coping with that situation. It got to a point where I was consistently booked off and I started consistently feeling guilty of being perpetually away from such an important national responsibility," he said.

"It [resignation] was not an easy decision. I don't sit here thinking I am the best economist in the country. Many qualified people could have been appointed in that capacity, but I was the chosen one. It was a real honour to serve - so you can imagine how difficult it must have been to resign."

"It's a serious position that requires full focus and commitment, which I could no longer offer under my current circumstances," he said.

The former IMF senior economist said he learned immeasurable lessons from working with the President.

"My biggest takeaways from him are around the concepts of transparency, accountability, the proverbial Namibian House and New Africa... These are tenets which I would carry with me in my next endeavours," he told New Era.

There have been suggestions that Steytler and Geingob had a fallout, hence the former's resignation.

Steytler has dismissed this, saying: "My trust and belief in him have not diminished and I'll be available to his service again if needed in the future."

He thanked both Geingob and his wife Monica for the support they provided during the period of mourning his sister.

He dismissed reports that he was leaving the presidency because he no longer possessed faith in the Harambee Prosperity Plan, President Geingob's signature blueprint to accelerate development in the country, or in the manner it was being implemented.

Steytler is widely credited with having taken the lead on crafting the prosperity plan, which eventually got a buy-in from Cabinet and the ruling party Swapo before it was formally adopted as a government development.

"It was a team effort," declared Steytler yesterday.

He said he will continue to be a "vocal" proponent of the Harambee plan, which he said is well intended and can place Namibia on a great developmental trajectory.

"Harambee will succeed especially if adequate resources are secured to fund its activities. I was vocal in favour of it and will continue to do so after my resignation," said Steytler.

He said while the Harambee plan has faced challenges in implementing some of its targets, there has been notable success in attaining others.

"In the area of vocational training, for example, some of the targets have been exceeded."

"It's nonsensical to suggest that a national document of that magnitude is a 'Steytler document'."

Since his resignation was announced this week, a speculation has zoomed onto Steytler, with headlines suggesting he 'dumped' the President.

"There are many misconceptions about the President. If you get to work with him you'd actually realise that he is a very nice person than what is often said about him," said the former statistician-general.

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