Yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle can be likened to an old song that has been modernized through the addition of a new melody.
President Hage Geingob yesterday rued the fact that he did not have a bigger pool to choose from when he was changing the composition of his cabinet. He spoke of how confined he was, despite the ruling party having over 80 members in the National Assembly. This speaks to Swapo’s lack of quality leaders.
This in turn forced Geingob to use the human resources at his disposal.
The changes in cabinet do not bring much hope to Namibians, simply because it is the same skill-set that has been on display since 2015. How do you expect better results if you still have the same players on your team?
If Geingob saw the need to reshuffle some cabinet members, then he surely should have seen the need to relief those who did not deliver on their mandates.
In the words of the president, “this year’s theme of reckoning is not incidental but fits into the bigger vision of this administration’s tenure”. Hence as head of the Namibian House, when things fall apart as they have been we expect leadership.
Leadership that requires more than a mere moving around of furniture but leadership which is prepared to clean house and fumigate where necessary. Without joining the chorus on who should have been fired, promoted, re-appointed or appointed at Ministry A or B; the crux of the matter is that leadership is not a popularity contest and politics always has casualties. Fittingly, the President drew inspiration from his passion for football to justify is decision for reshuffling the cabinet.
In football I happen to know that coaches select players for the sake of winning. And the truth is that, we have not been winning at all. The president himself empathised with the public that “Namibia continues to lose its standing on global competitiveness rankings. This is partially attributed to inefficiencies, bureaucratic bottlenecks and the slow pace of reform. Consequently, our investment climate has been perceived to be not conducive, due to the lack of implementation of agreed upon reform measure”.
Hence, we can only hope that this reshuffled cabinet team is indeed the winning governance team Namibia needs to overcome her challenges.
It is important to note that the President’s address contained bold public messages directed to key players in his team. He publicly called out the Prime Minister by referring at least twice to the constitutional mandate of her office to hold public servants accountable. And what was perhaps most exciting for many was the direct reference to the Ministry of Defence on allegations that it purchased a 45-million-dollar farm amidst challenges of land accessibility and housing as well as unemployment experienced by the citizenry.
The President also expressed that he was disturbed by allegations of corruption, maladministration and /or incompetency, mostly directed at the: Ministry of Works and Transport; the Office of the Attorney General; the Ministry of Mines and Energy and the Ministry of Health and Social Service. Calling out these ministries was very important because incompetence cannot continue to be blanketed under the title ‘government’ which has often been the case.
Civil society has for a while now been calling on the President to act somewhat radically in this year of reckoning and what we witnessed at the opening of cabinet is just that.
In conclusion, I must say that the President’s changes in cabinet are welcomed and it is my hope that we will start to see positive and nation-building results consequent of his reckoning.