President Hage Geingob has come out guns blazing calling on his detractors and critics to resign from Cabinet if they are not happy.
Geingob made these remarks in response to questions posed to him at State House on Wednesday during the year end briefing on government’s activities.
The statement comes at a time when talk is rife that Geingob will fire two cabinet ministers who opposed him at the just-ended watershed 6th Swapo Party elective congress at which he emerged victorious with an overwhelming majority of votes.
Those on the firing include long-term Swapo cadres in the form of immigration minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and sport minister Jerry Ekandjo.
“When you are in Cabinet, you must be loyal. Not to me but to Cabinet,” Geingob stated vaguely.
Both Ekandjo and Iivula-Ithana campaigned fiercely and viciously for Team Swapo to unseat Geingob from Swapo’s presidency.
However, it appears that, this democratic exercise by the two did not sit well Geingob who is awaiting resignation letters from his antagonists.
It is an open secret that the campaigns leading to the Swapo Congress by both Team Swapo and Team Harambee were premised on fighting personalities rather than providing alternatives to the issues of the day.
When Geingob was queried whether or not he has going to reshuffle his cabinet as anticipated, he retorted that hiring and firing Cabinet ministers was his prerogative
“Let’s go to the constitution. It is says the President is elected. When it comes to Cabinet, it’s the President’s prerogative. I don’t consult anyone to appoint or fire any minister,” Geingob lectured before making it clear that the same way he appointed his cabinet ministers was the same way he was going to fire any of them.
Geingob further questioned the tendency of Namibians.
“How do you want to stay (in Cabinet)? Where did you see an opposition in Cabinet? If you have your own ideas and Swapo is not doing it…start you own political party,” said Geingob before adding that he is loyal to Swapo.
The President went on to say “I don’t know what it is (someone will criticize you but they won’t resign). It is better to resign if you don’t like someone. If you are not happy, go! If you are not happy and stay, I will fire you,” Geingob said in what seemed like a message directed to both Ekandjo and Iivula-Ithana.
The Patriot is reliably informed that, Ekandjo and Iivula-Ithana each received a letter from Geingob this week in which they were requested to explain to the President why they should be kept in their ministerial posts.
When approached by The Patriot, Iivula-Ithana who is out the country on official duty said she was not aware of the letter.
“If such a letter has come, it must be probably be lying somewhere in my office. It can’t follow me abroad,” Iivula-Ithana maintained.
During an earlier interview with The Patriot, Iivula-Ithana said she would accept and respect Geingob’s decision if he was to fire her for exercising her democratic right as enshrined in the Swapo Party constitution.
“Whatever the President decides, I will respect. That’s the President’s decision. But what I can say is that I have always served the Swapo Party government and the Namibian people. Not an individual,” she said at the time.
Geingob’s remarks come as a surprise after he appeared to have poured oil on the troubled waters and smoked the peace pipe with his Swapo foes.
In his acceptance speech a few weeks ago, a reconciliatory Geingob said “this is our moment to light a new candle of camaraderie. It is our moment to turn our backs on petty politics. It is our moment to turn towards each other in the spirit of unity and resist the temptation to fall back into personalised squabbles”.
At the back double economic downgrades; record unemployment levels; ailing health sector; crumbling education sector President Geingob had nothing but praise for his Cabinet for a job well done in 2017.
When asked to rate his Cabinet between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest number on the score card, Geingob rated his Cabinet 7/10. The score translates into a 70% pass rate.
This is an exceptional performance on face value whereas the situation on the ground paints a different picture.
President Geingob said his administration was committed to fight graft pointing to his classic intervention in the dubious Hosea Kutako International Airport upgrade tender.
“The airport tender which was inflated from N$3 billion to N$7 billion (is an example of political will to fight corruption). First round we lost. We said ‘aikona’” before adding that government eventually won the case in the second round.
Furthermore, the President was quick to note that all corruption cases where either in the courts or were being investigated.
“Just because you hate the person who is accused doesn’t mean they are guilty. Tax is being investigated. Some of them are our friends went in jail. We did not say ‘don’t arrest them’.” Geingob further commitment to fight corruption.
Finance minister Calle Schlettwein who also graced the media briefing admitted that 2017 was a tough year from an economic perspective.
He however retained that the austerity plan which government has embarked on was starting to yield positive results.
The optimistic Schlettwein was content to announce that the overall mining activities are growing in double digits when compared to the same period last year. These included diamond, copper, zinc and gold he said.
Both the agriculture and tourism sectors have also picked up and are growing in double digits, the finance minister said without delving into statistics.
“We are moving out of negative figures into positive figures,” he said while admitting that it is not easy to weather the economic storm.
He admitted that “we are not yet out of the woods” before noting that “the finance sector is very liquid”.
Speaking at the same occasion, health minister Bernard Haufiku said a complete overhaul will be witnessed at the controversy-prone ministry.
He said the recent troubles in the health ministry are to be blamed on the poor communications strategy that the ministry uses.
“Things will change and things will change for the better,” Haufiku said.
To address the present needs of the ministry, the health ministry will restructure.
“The structure we had was responsive to a population of 1 million people. Now we have 2 million people,” he explained the need for the new orginisational structure.
Haufiku lamented that the ministry was currently experiencing a shortfall in terms of human resources.
Education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa said it was difficult to provided education with meagre resources.
She thus called on parents and relevant stakeholders to come aboard and meet government in its efforts to provide quality education.
“There is no way the State can provide education on its own,” before stressing the parents were still expected to make contributions to schools on a voluntary basis.
Financially, the education ministry struggled to make ends meet.
This year, the ministry could not sustain hostel boarding learners throughout 2017 on a budget of N$11.97 billion.