Namibia: !gawaxab Assumes Central Bank Job

Newly appointed governor of the Bank of Namibia Johannes !Gawaxab has assumed duty this week, promising to deliver on leading Namibia to economic prosperity.

According to the bank, !Gawaxab (64) is the third Namibian to become the head of the government's bank, and is set to serve until December 2021.

He takes charge under very difficult economic conditions with a high government debt bill, low interest rates and minimal fiscal space for the central bank to fascilitate any real growth in the economy.

His appointment also means he will serve as the chairperson of the board of directors of the central bank.

On assuming duty, !Gawaxab said he believes the central bank's mandate is more than delivering on traditional roles such as monetary policy and financial stability, but is also about delivering on an economy that provides prosperity.

The Bank of Namibia, though independent, has been criticised for hiding in the South African Reserve Bank's shadow.

"I aim to look at how best do we complement the collaborations between the monetary policy and fiscal policy authorities to bring economic prosperity to Namibia," he says.

In a statement issued by the bank, BoN spokesperson Kazembire Zemburuka says !Gawaxab is a business strategist, and a renowned thought leader with a wealth of experience spanning decades in financial services in Namibia and Africa.

With his appointment, The Namibian reported eyebrows were raised - especially about a possible conflict of interests where !Gawaxab would be the head of the bank which deals with some of his investment companies.

!Gawaxab at the time said his investment companies were not regulated by the central bank, nor do they dominate the financial market.

He co-founded Eos Capital Namibia in 2015, a company that manages about N$93,8 million of the Government Institutions Pension Fund money through the privately owned Allegrow Fund.

Another business linked to him is Eljota Investments Namibia, which had shown on its website !Gawaxab was its founder and principal officer.

Eljota is an asset management company dealing in government bonds among other financial products.

"I have responded to serve the nation and accepted. I decided to subordinate self-interest to national interest," he said.

He said he would ensure businesses like Eos Capital do not clash with his new mandate.

At the time of going to print, the Bank of Namibia had not confirmed whether !Gawaxab has resigned from his previous jobs.

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