The year 2016 presented mixed fortunes for the country’s cabinet with some managing to rise to the occasion and proving their worth why they deserve these sleek mercs but others simply did not make the grade.
Among the high flyers were the Minister of Finance Calle Schlettwein; Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste; Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Corporation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah; and the ever vocal Minister of Mines and Energy Obeth Kandjoze; and his counterpart Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta (we can be forgiven for not knowing whether their verbosity was matched with delivery).
It would also be fair to acknowledge those who were present yet not awake. These were the moderate performers and this group is made up of the likes of Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Sophia Shaningwa; Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Ivula-Ithana; Minister of Basic Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa; Minister of Trade, Industrialization and SME Development, Immanuel Ngatjizeko; and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who we feel was overshadowed by reality.
Unfortunately it will not make sense not recognizing those that absolutely do not deserve any recognition. In this case we are referring to those that wore nice suits, went to State House, got inaugurated and forgot why they got the jobs.
We cannot imagine or remember who some of the ministers that fall in this categories are because their performance literally leaves a lot to be desired. In this category of ministers you find likes of Minister of Poverty Eradication, Rev. Zephania Kameeta, Minister of Sports Youth and National Service, the ever unavailable, Jerry Ekandjo, and the ever silent Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Itah Kandjii-Murangi.
Perhaps his exploits represent a true embodiment of a committed cadre who goes home satisfied with his deed of the day. He took the difficult decision of slashing unnecessary expenditure by doing away with unnecessary projects.
Schlettwein had no kind words for those that believe in impulsive spending and to pretend his exploits on bringing those that are not in good books with the tax man in line was not the best move will be naïve.
Whoever thought tenderpreneurs will beg to be paid but Schlettwein simply wanted his dues before paying anybody.
He also reacted swiftly to comments and concerns raised by Namibia’s relations with the European Union and the effects of Brexit as well as the Sovereign Credit Rating by Fitch.
This year Schlettwein initiated the export levy bill that will be imposed on mineral commodities, fishery, gas, crude oil and forestry products. Schlettwein also addressed another concern to investors on the, solidarity tax, and he continued that the solidarity tax would solely mean displaying empathy towards the poor in a meaningful manner.
Although she almost choked with the North Korean issue, we feel she did well to handle the diplomatic issues well. It was also under her guard that the shoot to kill policy in Botswana that saw many Namibian lives lost was dealt with. However, we feel she still needs to do more to articulate the country’s recently reviewed foreign policy.
It never is easy to tame the beast called a parastatal but Jooste, through his recently mooted hybrid model, could be on the right path. This year we surely commend him for challenging lazy fat cats in parastatals to deliver and earn their salaries. He also did exceptionally well in making sure that all the SOEs send their annual financial reports to parliament. Perhaps his challenge for the year is that he has not started producing results in performance. This he must work on.
Oh dear, oh dear, if we hear of one more poaching syndicate the minister should be taken to task. He has done tremendously well to go to the ground on a fact finding mission over the poaching of our rhinos and elephants, but the fact that we have no solution on this issue simply means the minister has not dug his heels deep enough. We respect him for his eloquence in discussing issues this year but he has also way to go.
His shortcomings were heavily exposed when the Kora millions disappeared under his nose and we simply believe he has no strategy to promote domestic tourism. When will the minister make it a point that our locals go to Sossusvlei?
We feel he needs to be assertive on what the country needs to do to have security of power supply. His vocal abilities are surely not matched by the fact that we do not have a solid long term power generation plan. We however feel he did well in signing the deal with De Beers to have local diamonds polished and cut to the benefit of Namibians. He should also find a solution to renewable energy challenges in future.
The moderate performers
We do not know whether she has become a woman of few words or sometimes she just does not have anything to say. The PM lost the plot in moderating between teachers and allowed the situation to escalate further than it should have been. Surely, there was no need for that harsh exchange of words between the teachers and the minister if the PM was on guard.
On a positive note the Office of the Prime Minister, has been one of few to actively participate in the matters concerning poverty. She headed a delegation to the Comprehensive High Level Mid Term Review Conference for the Implementation (CHLMRC) of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for the decade 2011-2020.
She was there but not really there. Last year she did exceptionally well with the turnaround plan but the fact that some Namibians do not have birth certificates does not spell well for the lady. We also do not like the fact that despite ques disappearing in the home affairs offices delivery remains pathetic. We believe she needs to deal with the production of birth certificates, work permits and also passports. By now Namibians should have been able to apply for such documents online and get them.
We feel she needs to climb down her high heels and acclimatise to the reality because the fact that Namibian children are still schooled under trees or in pole and mud structures is a shame on its own. She has lost focus on improving the quality of passes in high school, and if she continues with her rants with teacher representatives we are up for another rude awakening. She has the energy to change things but this year se completely failed to recognize this and work to her strength.
It is regrettable that she has become used to talking and not delivering. When will we start seeing houses being built for the poor? Until when should the municipalities continue to auction land to the rich while the poor wilt in Kambashus? Shaningwa’s performance surely did not meet her energy and exuberance.
Namoloh’s most boasted achievements have been in the security sector, which has recorded an increase in the intake of police recruits in turn contributing to employment, especially of the youth.
His did come with challenges as the ministry often came under scrutiny for police brutality and corrupt activities such as mishandling of police files leading to lost case files.
The minister has shown that he can put his subjects in their places in the interest of the public when he this year, firmly warned that police officers will start facing the axe more often should brutality continue.
The police also recorded an increase in the number of officers who are being investigated for misconduct.
The safety ministry has also managed to tighten the grip on illegal firearms and ammunition to curb rising crime involving illegal firearms in the country.
This move has seen many Namibians handing in illegal fire arms and ammunition at Nampol offices in all fourteen regions.
Despite acute water shortages due to the persistent drought as well as animal diseases affecting the livelihood of farmers, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF), John Mutorwa has shown promise.
Mutorwa has been on his toes to address the challenges of water shortages and has been appointed as the chairperson of the Water Committee that will be reporting to the president.
He has been working with a team of experts to tackle water related challenges, and this year he visited some drought stricken areas for assessment and familiarization.
He has also taken into action the drilling of various boreholes in needy communities such as the Olukupa community that received approval to drill two boreholes.
The Minister of Health and Social Services dedicated his time to operate on patients that are unable to afford medical aid. He then went on to come up with a campaign promoting voluntarily male circumcision to sensitise males on the risk of contracting HIV and AIDS through this initiative.
However, the ministry still struggles to uplift the trust of citizens in state health facilities due to the endless cases of negligence detected. In the same light, the state health facilities have also been in dire need of equipment such as bed with the media reporting cases where state patients are left on the floors due to a lack of beds.
The Minister of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) promised 100 percent network coverage for cellphones for all Namibians during his term. Namibia’s mobile phone network population coverage has increased exponentially to 95 percent since the 1990s, while subscriptions are recorded at 119.16 per 100 inhabitants. Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) migration from analogue to digital television as required by the Telecommunications Union and DTT coverage has also increased
The Minister of Works and Transport have had his fair share of media spotlight this year as many state projects fall under his ministry, such as the road from Uis via Khorixas to Opuwo that is being tarred. This project has kick-started successfully and has employed many youth. The minister this year announced that this project will bring change to the northern road network.
Another milestone achieved by the ministry is renovation of government buildings such as the police stations and hospitals across the country. A number of hospitals and police stations have successfully been renovated under the ministry’s supervision.
The Labour Minister Erkki Nghitima has not been seen that much around at a time when labour unions still frown at the cold hearted manner the Neckartal Dam and fishermen’s strike was handled.
Despite pleas from the more than 600 affected striking fishermen who were left to the mercy of their employers who regarded the industrial action as de facto, the Labour Ministry is on record telling them to go beg for their jobs.
If this minister does not know what his ministry entails he should just take an early retirement. Surely, he is the same minister who asks NPL to borrow money from Government while 6 000 young jobs are on the line. When does he attend sport events and he should do away with his non-engagement policy with journalists.
This year is surely one of her worst with student strikes over school fee increases and NSFAF becoming the romantic soap opera of troubles, one wonder where she was. She is has been silent on the angle she is going to take in tackling the real challenges in tertiary education and institutions under her wing.
(What about minister of fisheries; economic planning; justice; defence; poverty and attorney general?)