By Ndapewoshali Shapwanale
President Hage Geingob had threatened former health minister Bernard Haufiku with removal a month before actually firing the minister.
Although Geingob maintains that Haufiku asked to be removed as the health minister, the President in a letter dated 26 November 2018 wrote to Haufiku raising a number of leadership concerns, including the minister’s foreign missions.
“You have a strong preference for missions outside the country, even in cases where it is not necessary for the minister to undertake such missions or where ideally such missions could be undertaken by the deputy members of your management,” the President wrote.
Geingob in the letter told Haufiku that he will use his constitutional right to remove him from office if the former minister does not satisfactorily address a number of concerns he has with the health ministry under his leadership.
“Should I not receive your response within 10 days of receipt of this letter or should your response not satisfactorily address my concerns, then in such circumstances and having exhaustively counselled you, I will regrettably be constrained to act and use my constitutional prerogative in terms of Article 32(6) of the Namibian Constitution” the November letter reads.
The provision gives the President the power to appoint and remove people at his discression.
Although the President threatened to use his constitutional prerogative to remove Haufiku as the health minister, Geingob in an interview with NBC earlier this month said that he did not remove the former minister but that Haufiku asked to be removed as a minister.
Haufiku, when approached for comment confirmed receiving the letter from Geingob while also confirming that he had indeed responded to it. He stated emphatically that he wishes not to comment on the contents of any of the letters.
Geingob in the letter, seen by The Patriot, told Haufiku that apart from the occasional signs of enthusiasm, and in certain respects a zeal and urge for a hands-on approach, he noted “with profound concern and disappointment” that the overall management and administration of the health ministry had “remarkably deteriorated” under the former minister’s leadership.
Nevertheless, in Haufiku’s appointment letter as Special Adviser Geingob notes “ I trust that you will prove to make invaluable contributions in advising the Minister when required.”
Geingob also urges Haufiku to work towards the fulfillment of the approved Ministry of Health and Social Services roadmap.
Geingob, in another letter seen by The Patriot, also recalled Haufiku from The National Assembly citing the provisions of the Namibian Constitution which empowers the President to remove any presidential appointee by the same process through which such person was appointed.
From minister to minister’s advisor
President Geingob’s decision to appoint Haufiku as a special advisor on Health and Social Services in the Office of the Vice President after firing him as a health minister caused outcry across the nation.
The President in a letter to remove Haufiku said that the former minister’s condition of service remains the same but may be adjusted to meet his new assignment.
Geingob instructed Haufiku to be an advisor to the health ministry, despite him writing to the former minister in the November letter that the health ministry had deteriorated under his watch and that allegations of corruption and mismanagement were alluded to during his leadership.
According to Haufiku’s new terms of reference as referred to by the President in the appointment letter, the former minister is expected to provide strategic advice to the Health Minister, Deputy Minister as well as the Permanent Secretary.
His scope of work also includes supporting the new minister in tracking and monitoring the implementation of health policies, programmes and plans within the agreed upon timelines as led by the minister and providing guidance against best practice methods from international organisations such as the World Health Organisation.
He is also, amongst others, expected to perform any other function as may be assigned by the President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister and the Health Minister.
The President also noted to Haufiku that public complaints over services at public hospitals reached an alarming rate and that there have been allegations of corruption, mismanagement and general lack of good governance.
He also accused the former minister of putting Government’s name into disrepute and embarrassing fellow Cabinet Members when he publicly aired his disagreement with Cabinet decisions.
The President raised Haufiku’s disagreement with Cabinet over the location for a N$1 billion academic referral hospital as another concern. “You in fact publicly impugned my integrity and considered my constitutional role, when overseeing your work as an inappropriate interference” Geingob wrote.
He made reference to a November 2018 newspaper article where the former minister, according to Geingob, publicly declared that the President interfered in his work.
“I was simply discharging my executive supervisory duties as the Head of State and Government.
In this context you recorded your preference to work without accountability to and oversight of the President.
A situation that is wholly intolerable” the letter read.
This is not the first time Geingob addressed Haufiku’s standpoint on the location of the hospital project.
It was reported in February 2018 that Geingob called out Haufiku for not respecting a Cabinet decision that Ondangwa be the selected location for the construction of the referral hospital.
There had been much debate whether the hospital should be constructed in Oshakati, Ondangwa or Ongwediva.
After listing his disappointments, the President further told Haufiku that he will continue to monitor his performance with the view to assess if the minister is achieving the set objectives as health minister.
“In view of the gravity and seriousness of all issues raised and identified above, and because of the need for confidence and trust by the President in any of his appointees in terms of Article 32(3)(h)(i)(dd) I would require you to satisfactorily respond to all issues raised above with the view to assuring me that you will now carry out your duties in accordance with the constitutional requirements and dignity” the letter states in closing.
Haufiku scores 85%
In line with the Namibian Government commitment to increase transparency and accountability, a quarterly review is conducted in regards ministerial performance. Haufiku had a performance review done in 2016 and 2017.
Despite Geingob’s list of issues with Haufiku, the former minister scored as high as 75.8% in an overall quarterly assessment dated 12 August 2016.
A latest assessment showed the minister scoring even higher with 85,5% and 85,3% in two respective quarterly reviews.
While the press secretary and presidential advisor Alfredo Hengari acknowledged receiving questions for the President, they did not respond by the time of going to print.