March 20, 2015, 8:09am
Big team, but will it work, analysts ask
By Theresia Tjihenuna
WHILE some analysts have welcomed the new Cabinet announced by President-elect Hage Geingob yesterday, they also said it remains to be seen how the ministries will function.
Geingob created four new ministries and renamed seven others. He also picked eleven new faces to Cabinet as well as four advisers under the Presidency. Institute for Public Policy Research executive director Graham Hopwood said the new ministries and the renamed ones stress the priorities of the new President, which include poverty alleviation, job creation, industrialisation and improved State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) governance.
“I am not certain about the logic of creating a ministry to eradicate poverty since this arguably should be the responsibility of a range of ministries including economic planning, industrialisation, finance, job creation, rural and urban development,” said Hopwood.
He said that on a positive note, it was refreshing to see new faces in charge of education and health portfolios, with a good deal of hope that these appointees can deliver. Hopwood further said the prospect of performance contracts and monitoring and evaluation reports on ministers is a welcome development.
“Hopefully, it will have the effect of galvanising those figures who served without a lot of distinction in the Pohamba Cabinet to reach new heights,” he said.
Another analyst,Victor Tonchi said some of the people on the list have worked diligently and were simply being rewarded for their hard work.
Tonchi, however, said although Geingob has picked a Cabinet of new faces, he also retained some of the old guard.
He said Geingob, who has on several occasions complained about the poor implementation of policies, now has an opportunity to ensure that this happens.
However, there also remains the concern that Geingob, who will be sworn in as the head of state tomorrow, might be stretching the wage budget because of his new enlarged team.
DTA president McHenry Venaani argued that the money could be spent on more critical needs rather than on the salaries of the new ministers.
“I fear that the system is heavily bloated. We already have a large civil service. Hage needs to downsize the civil services and divert more resources to poverty,” he said.
Venaani also said he feared that government was trying to create unnecessary “super ministries” and reclycling old faces. “Let us see how they will perform in the first 100 days. When I sit with him (Hage) one on one, I'd like him to tell me how he will handle all these ministries,” he said.
THERE IS HOPE
Former mayor of Windhoek Agnes Kafula, who was not appointed, said all hope was not lost as the selection process was not yet over.
She, however, insisted that she had not been eyeing a ministerial post.
“I am not an ambitious person who is after positions. As long as I am in parliament, I am prepared to serve wherever I am assigned,” she said.
Kafula also said the elections prepared her for parliament and not necessarily for a ministerial role.
“We are all going to sit in one house (parliament), even back-benchers are part of parliament,” she stressed.
Former Law Reform and Development Commission chairperson Sacky Shanghala also seems to be putting on a brave face saying he is surprised by those who think his future is uncertain. “I am honoured to have served as the chairperson of the LRDC. I thank the President and his Cabinet for the honour and privilege,” he said.
Shanghala, who many thought would definitely be awarded a top job in the new Cabinet after pushing for the constitutional amendments last year, said the Namibian people have honoured him once again, through the Swapo Party to serve as a member of parliament.
“I will serve to the best of my ability to ensure that the lives of our people are improved,” he said.
Swapo deputy secretary general Laura McLeod-Katjirua said she has no hard feelings about the appointments and will continue serving wherever the political wind blows her.
“I am on the waiting list with a whole lot of other people, so I will be fine wherever I am placed,” she said.
Meanwhile, those who moved up the ranks with ministerial posts seemed to be in good spirits.
Newly announced minister of education, arts and culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa simply said she is “cool” with her new appointment.
She, however, was not in a position to reveal what improvements and new ideas she plans to bring to the table, saying she will wait until she is sworn in.
“I am bringing my skills and expertise as a mother, grandmother and a former teacher with my classroom experience,” she said.
Newly appointed deputy minister of industrialisation Piet van der Walt said he is elated with his new job, saying it was high time the country became industrialised.
“It is too early for me to say much, but I will have a briefing about it soon,” he said.
Minister in the presidency Tom Alweendo said he is excited about the challenge of serving in the new executive, especially with additional responsibilities.
He said that the addition of economic planning to the portfolio will help the ministry to play a better role in government projects and polices as compared to the past when their role was not seen as vital.