Wednesday 21 April 2021
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Is Geingob’s cabinet pulling in one direction?

When President Hage Geingob took charge as Head of State in 2015, he had one mantra and one mantra only – it was about ‘pulling together in one direction’ or his favourite anecdote, ‘Harambee’.
However, two years into his presidency, the situation on the ground paints a different picture to what Geingob visualised at the genesis of his journey.
In recent times, Geingob’s Presidency has been marred by one controversy after another and is to an onlooker, an entity in disarray – an institution that is pulling in opposing directions without a common voice or purpose. To put this in context, just last week the Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities instructed Public Enterprises Minister Leon Jooste to make the official announcement regarding its decision to place the cash-stripped Roads Contractor Company (RCC).
At the time, the Cabinet Committee on Overall Policy and Priorities had placed RCC under judicial management, a move that seems to prolong the company’s impending liquidation at least until after the Swapo party elective congress in November.
As instructed, Jooste held a press conference to brief the media on the Cabinet decision.  Surprisingly, Jooste’s Cabinet counterpart and Works Minister Alpheus !Naruseb, for reasons only known to him came out ‘guns blazing’ this week to make a similar announcement to that of former’s in the past week, despite the instruction being clear: “Jooste must make the announcement”.  According to insiders, both Jooste and !Naruseb held different views regarding the future of RCC in the run-up to the decision to place the insolvent parastatal under judicial management.
Jooste was pushing for the closure of the company while !Naruseb was against its closure. The same can be said about the two ministers’ views on several other state-owned enterprises.
It is a well-documented fact that since the establishment of public enterprises ministry in 2015, Jooste and !Naruseb’s relationship has deteriorated to a level never seen before for individuals holding keys to two high public offices.
The lines between the two ministers are clearly drawn, it is no longer professional but personal between the two.
While the two ministers have their swords at each other’s necks, they are failing to comprehend the impending repercussions that their frosty relationship may have on the governance of their ministries and SOEs under their helm.
It is a precedent that, once Cabinet reaches a decision, the decision is deemed collective. This is to say, even those Cabinet members who were initially opposed to such a decision are forced to support it publicly or suffer silently.
Similarly, in the not so distant past, immigration minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana was attacked by her fellow Cabinet colleague and presidential affairs minister Frans Kapofi when she tabled Time Change Bill in Parliament despite the fact that the Bill had been agreed at Cabinet level.  The recent happenings at both Cabinet and Swapo party level has brought many to question whether Geingob was really in charge of his Cabinet and subsequently the party in particular.
As all this unfolds, Geingob seems to be rather unfazed by the dangers posed by his failure to address the human relations issues.
What I am trying to bring to your attention is that, the President is far-removed from whether his government is pulling in one direction or not. This is surely something that deserves the President’s attention.

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