Monday 19 April 2021
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Where is the PM?

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein’s recent acts to publicly embarrass his Cabinet colleagues has the potential to bring disunity in Cabinet.
Schlettwein, as head of the public purse, has been intervening in the operations of other ministries whenever he senses dodgy or irresponsible transactions.
Because Treasury is cross cutting his actions are warranted to a certain extent.
The looting of state resources in the past also plays in Schlettwein’s favour because his moves to block reckless spending is earning him enough public sympathy to continue his zeal to safeguard the country’s resources.
Many have accused him of overstepping the ministerial boundaries though.
Schlettwein could deal with such matter in a more diplomatic way and talk to his colleague behind closed doors instead of washing their dirty linen in public.
Schlettwein has always come across as a technocrat and it is thus no surprise that his diplomatic prowess lags behind.
The big question however remains, where the is the Prime Minister? Why is Schlettwein not reporting the problems he faces to the head of Governments administration to deal with rogue ministers.
Peer to peer fights are not good for Cabinet because it sends a signal that ministers undermine each other. This in an era of ‘Harambee’ where we apparently must all pull in the same direction.
These public fights also exposes the badly kept secret that a number of ministers do not see eye to eye although the responsibility to serve the Namibian people forces them to interact.
At this rate, one expects Cabinet to be in total shambles by the time the 2019 polls come around.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila needs to step in and call the ministers to order.
Since entering office, we have not seen her leading the government with an iron fist, hence the current shambles.
We cannot have ministers who are more afraid of stepping on Schlettwein’s toes than on Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s.
The sporadic fallout between ministers is becoming too frequent and toxic for our country.
It is our hope that the clashes between ministers are nothing personal, but it does not seem so.
The seemingly strange conflict between Tjekero Tweya and Schlettwein pits two government ministers, who ostensibly should be allies, against one another as adversaries. It raises the important question of why Namibia’s government isn’t on the same page over many issues.
The controversy is indicative of the banal demands of governing.
A key source of the disagreement is summed up in the famous insight about policy making by Rufus Miles, the former American official, who stated:
Where you stand [on an issue] depends on where you sit [in government].
Tweya’s mission at the trade ministry is to ensure that the business climate in the country I sound and that the country can lure investors. Schlettwein on the other hand is tasked to ensure that the country’s finance are spend responsibly.
In summary, where the ministers stand on the new regulations depends on where they sit in government.
The inter-ministerial conflict has erupted precisely because Ministers Tweya and Schlettwein both want to carry out the competing objectives of their departments.
A tried and tested method of winning bureaucratic battles is to harness the power of the public. Schlettwein’s disagreement with Tweya may provide him with the valuable political leverage afforded by public opinion.
But while ministers pay close attention to their ministerial interests, the PM must pay attention to the broader interests of Namibia. What is now needed is firm and clear guidance by the Prime minister and President to resolve this conflict in cabinet.

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