Namibia: Geingob Shuffles His Pack ... Kapofi Gets Defence, Klazen Promoted

Namibian President Hage Geingob (file photo).
22 April 2021

In a surprise turn of events, President Hage Geingob yesterday named his trusted lieutenant Frans Kapofi as new defence minister, replacing Peter Vilho, who resigned under a cloud earlier this month.

Geingob has also promoted former Walvis Bay mayor Derek Klazen to head the fisheries portfolio, while Albert Kawana replaces Kapofi at home affairs.

Kawana was officially named fisheries minister last year but had acted in that position following the abrupt resignation of corruption-tainted Bernhard Esau in November 2019.

At defence, Kapofi has been tasked to reform line agencies such as the controversial August 26 Holdings as well as ensure a smooth integration of the department of veterans' affairs into the ministry.

In his letter of resignation, the former defence minister had requested Geingob to institute a forensic investigation into the ministry of defence and its business wing, August 26, as well as the Namibian Defence Force, with a view of clearing his name.

Vilho's resignation followed claims that he did not declare an offshore bank account in Hong Kong.

He had, among others, blamed the ongoing "media blitz" against him for his resignation, saying his continued membership of the executive was untenable and not in the best interest of government.

Political commentator Graham Hopwood said the reshuffle was mainly to deal with Vilho's resignation.

"Kapofi is seen as a safe pair of hands and is a long-time trusted comrade. Kawana has been constantly recycled and is entrusted with a ministry with security functions," he said.

Hopwood said Klazen's Walvis Bay links probably landed him the job, further saying the ministry needs reform, especially in the way it allocates fishing quotas.

Weight of expectation

Meanwhile, the new fisheries minister faces a daunting task to reform the limping fishing sector, whose reputation has been damaged by the ongoing Fishrot scandal, which has landed two former ministers in jail.

The Presidency said it expects Klazen to accelerate the implementation of the Namibianisation scorecard to achieve greater involvement, participation and benefits for Namibians.

Klazen, who is a Walvis Bay native, has served as deputy urban and rural development minister since 2015.

Other appointments

Former Swapo Party Youth League leader and parliamentarian Heather Sibungo was appointed deputy minister of environment. Geingob also named former home affairs deputy minister Maureen Hinda-Mbuende as deputy minister of finance. The finance ministry has been without a deputy minister since March last year.

Current non-voting Swapo parliamentarian and former Erongo chief regional officer Natalia /Goagoses will deputise Erastus Uutoni at the ministry of urban and rural development to fill the void left by Klazen.

Another deputy ministerial position was handed to educationalist and Swapo MP Veno Kauaria, who will now become deputy minister of higher education. - ktjitemisa@nepc.com.na

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