Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has risen dramatically to the top of the political pile, by being appointed as the country’s first female prime minister.
In an interview after incoming president Hage Geingob announced her appointment yesterday, she explained that her journey has been one of hard work, humility and service to others, while adding that she never did it this for promotion and recognition.
Geingob also announced that Veterans Affairs Minister Nickey Iyambo will be the country’s first vice-president, while Foreign Affairs Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah will be deputy prime minister and could also lead a ministry at the same time.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has consistently been praised for good performance as finance minister over the years.
She was conferred the Most Brilliant Order of the Sun, Second Class last year on Heroes Day by President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said yesterday her secret is that she has lived a life of honesty, integrity and loyalty to the Namibian people.
“I come from humble beginnings and it always has been about hard work and learning. One does not do things to rise and I never did what I did for recognition and promotion. The prime minister position has its own challenges and I now have to appreciate the task which lies ahead.
A political analyst said Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has proved herself to be a credible politician, with a clean track record and intellectual ability.
In 1995 and at the age of 27, she became a household name after she was appointed as the director-general of the National Planning Commission (NPC) by founding president Sam Nujoma.
When he made his announcement yesterday, Geingob said: “For this post, I have chosen a young, dynamic and pretty young lady. She is well-groomed in management and particularly in financial management, an area in which she possesses vast experience.
Geingob said her experience as a chief administrator will be invaluable, since the Office of the Prime Minister overseas the implementation of various government programmes and projects.
“Therefore having someone with sound financial fundamentals at the helm will be an advantage.
After eight years at the NPC, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila enjoyed another fortunate rise in her career when she replaced Swapo Secretary-General Nangolo Mbumba as finance minister in 2003.
In that portfolio, she championed the reduction and limitation of government spending and announced the country’s first surplus in 2006/7, repeating this feat again in 2007/8.
Political analyst Victor Tonchi believes Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has proven herself and her intellectual abilities in that portfolio.
“Over the years she has grown and in now the longest serving minister of finance, she has proven herself as a credible person, said Tonchi.
He added that politically Kuugongelwa-Amadhila has been on the playing field long enough, and has shown the nation what she is capable of doing.
Kuugongelwa-Amadhila sailed into party influence circles when she was elected to the Swapo Politburo in 2002 and is now also part of its central committee.
Tonchi said he was not surprised by yesterday’s other announcements.
“I am not a surprise in any case. We have seen the loyalty of Iyambo and Netumbo. So I am not really surprised. Iyambo is a veteran politician. He is a cool-headed person and has proven himself to be a credible person. It is not far-fetched.
During his announcement yesterday, Geingob said Iyambo should have the ability to consult and advise him.
“He should not tell you what you want to hear, but should be able to deal with difficult issues. He should have the right temperament and be a troubleshooter.
On the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Geingob said the post will have a substantive portfolio, to be revealed at a later stage.
He said his appointments represent a mixture of age and gender.
WINDHOEK ELVIS MURARANGANDA