Ministers have welcomed their new assignments in various ministries following a cabinet shake-up last week which saw Nickey Iyambo resigning the vice president’s post paving way for Nangolo Mbumba.
Speaking to The Villager, various ministers said there were ready to tackle their mandates head on, while others expressed no knowledge of what they would be doing since they had not yet started.
Tjekero Tweya: Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development
When you are assigned you must go work. That’s it. I am not there yet so I must report for duty and when I am there then I will express myself but for now I have been assigned to go work and that is what I am doing.
What do you mean surprised? As a politician you are assigned and given a task and anytime, any task. So that is the nature of the profession. When you are given a job, you do it (laughs). If you are given a job, do it, because that is what is expected. I expect nothing else except dedication and performance. Whether you are surprised whether you are afraid, that’s immaterial.
Peya Mushelenga: Minister of Urban and Rural Development
Well, I feel humbled by the confidence and trust that the president has in me. At the same time, I feel that I have a challenging task lying ahead of me. As you know housing is a basic need. We have so many people from low income groups that need to be housed and if you go around, houses have become unaffordable. So we have therefore to look at affordable houses for the low income group. That will be one of my key priority areas.
Well, you have also issues related to traditional authorities. There have always been problems (with) some traditional authorities. Some are recognised, some are not recognised. This is always a problem. They also come with a cost and we are in a current situation where we find ourselves under financial constraints. We have to ensure that we do more with the little resources that we have.
We have to look at whether local authorities are implementing the policies as designed by the national government in terms of the Harambee Prosperity Plan and in terms of the NDP5. Those are issues that we need to look at. It’s quite a huge ministry in terms of the work load. I am humbled to have been entrusted with such a great task.
Hon. Shaningwa is my immediate predecessor, we are going to work hand in hand and work very closely so that I continue with where she ended. It’s the same government, same programs. I think you have already seen my response in one of the dailies that I was surprised (to be nominated).
Sacky Shanghala: Minister of Justice
Sorry sir. I don’t want to talk to journalists. Thank you very much. Bye bye!
Let me respond this way, I come from the teaching background. When a student has completed a particular grade, let’s say grade 8, 9 or 10 or even first year at university, and this person has now graduated to go to the next level, you give that person what you may regard as the reasonable time to settle in.
How can I now answer that question? I do not know what the environment is there. All that I am saying is that I am ready. But whether I will be up for the task, I can not evaluate myself. I will start there next week (this week). Judge me, evaluate me and then you reach your own conclusion.
I can not be so presumptuous to say that you know, as soon as I arrive there I will be up for the task. I am not that type of person. It is not for me to identify priority areas of government in terms of development. These are articulated in our policy documents, NDP5, Harambee, Vision 2030. These are the policy statements that direct what to do in a particular ministry. May be if you phrase that question next week and ask me which are the priority areas in terms of implementation, I will tell you.
I have been around in government for many years. I entered government in 1990 first as a regional commissioner. Then I moved here to the centre, deputy minister, minister, big ministries, education, here, youth, sport, culture, what. I can not be surprised at this stage about any reshuffle. Also when I expect the responsibility, if I was surprised and see I could not do it, I would have told the president but I am not surprised.
Tom Alweendo: Minister of Mines and Energy
How do I feel? I am feeling quite excited. It’s a new challenge. Something which obviously has got a great impact on our economy. We know mining is the biggest contributor, it’s an exciting thing to figure out now, if that’s the case, how much more can we do as part of our economic growth plans? We all understand that without energy, one can not industrialise, or whatever it is that we want to do, we can’t do that without energy. At least affordable energy. So I see a lot of challenges, good challenges and opportunities to see how we can keep pushing. It’s exciting.
It did not come as a surprise really. I understood that there was going to be a cabinet reshuffle. I wasn’t surprised in terms of now having to go to mines and energy. It’s something I think I can offer something to. I always say the best way to do things (is) to deploy people in the areas that they have got some ability to offer something. That’s why i say I am so excited because it’s something I know something about.
I think there are two things. To find out as to the current processes we follow in terms of allowing people to exploit our mining resources, is that process and those procedures which we have been following giving us the best deal? The agreements we sign with investors, whether local or foreign, do they give the state sufficient financial returns? After all this is a resource that should belong to the state. And therefore the state must get something as well, as much as the investors of course are the ones that are coming with the money and exploiting.
So I think one of the things that I will look at is to see the way we are doing things. Can we do it differently so we can get more out of it? I am not saying we are not. Every now and then one has to re-asses what you have done before and not just to be satisfied with what you have.
If we find that may be we need to change the way we do it in order for us to get more from our natural resources, then we are going to do that.
The other thing which I think one should be aware of (is) this talk of corruption. The president in his remarks also mentioned that there are allegations about corruption in the mining sector. Obviously that’s something which I would be quite aware of. If that be the case, to make sure that at least we become more transparent in how we do things such that those allegations of corruption do not become the norm where people think every time you do something in the mining sector it means it’s a corrupt deal.
And sometimes you do these things by simply having a better communication strategy because some times when even there is no corruption, just because people think it was done behind closed doors, people naturally assume that there was corruption. So those are the two things that one need to look at.
Improvements in commodity prices do not make the job easier, except that one would have loved to see also uranium improving. That’s probably the biggest kind of mineral that we are going to be exporting in view of some of the mines that have started like the Husab mine. I believe there is one or two mines that could open if the prices of uranium where to improve. It’s a great thing to have, all the other mineral prices that are improving but going forward, one hopes that uranium prices, which will probably become the largest export mineral can also go the same way so that we can have more people opening up these mines.