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Geingob says ministers are ‘free to resign’

Abide by collective decisions, or ship out
The president has also ordered the prime minister to regularly provide updates on ministers' work progress.
Jemima Beukes
President Hage Geingob yesterday told ministers who are in Cabinet to advance their own personal agendas and who disagree with the executive’s collective decision-making to resign.

He made the remarks during the opening of the first Cabinet meeting, and reminded his ministers that they are there to serve the interests of the people, with a priority to deliver services.

“It is not about advancing your own personal agenda and, therefore, as I have stated before, if you disagree with a collective decision taken and agreed upon by Cabinet, you are free to resign as per the Cabinet handbook,” he said.

In 2018, Geingob, citing the same handbook, fired ministers Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Jerry Ekandjo, who stood against him at the Swapo elective congress the previous year.

The two ministers, during congress campaigns, criticised some of Geingob’s policies and initiatives – such as the now discontinued food bank.

Geingob said the pair defied decisions of the collective and he thus fired them in accordance with the provisions of the handbook.

To the letter

Yesterday, Geingob told ministers that they cannot operate in silos, especially during a time when they are all required to achieve important goals with limited resources. As representatives of Namibia, they should never forget that they are keepers of public trust, he added.

“Being a member of Cabinet should never be about advancing personal interests or those of family, friends or associates,” he said.

He stressed that all ministers should implement - to the letter - projects under their portfolios, contained in the National Development Projects and the Harambee Prosperity Plan, without delay.

Introduced by the president, Harambee aims to ensure Namibia is poised to respond to domestic socio-economic challenges and global opportunities during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has been said that we are good at developing impressive plans, but when it comes to implementation, things don’t move. This year, we want an accelerated pace of implementation.

“In this regard, Comrade Prime Minister, I equally charge you to regularly follow-up with the ministers and through the secretary to Cabinet and the executive directors to check on progress and report any inactivity or lack of progress directly to me. So that we call people to account and formulate whatever measures may be necessary to implement our economic revival and other policies,” he said.

‘Negative headlines’

Geingob further took a thinly-veiled swipe at local media, accusing them of being hell-bent on focusing on government’s failures, while ignoring its achievements.

He said this while urging government agencies to be more transparent – citing the success of the communication centre the state initiated during the peak of the pandemic, through which key messages were shared with the public.

“Failure to do so will allow those whose aim is to downplay our achievements and progress to take the initiative and propagate their false narratives.

“If one is not effective in articulating and communicating one’s narrative, then others will communicate a different narrative on one’s behalf.”

Lashing out at the press, the head of state said: “I have observed with increasing concern negative media headlines, sometimes without us being given a right of reply. These same headlines are then amplified through social media and radio talk shows, thereby influencing public opinion.

“If you read daily print media, you would be depressed. It is as if nothing positive is taking place. This is absolutely not true.

“As government, and as ministers, we should not shy away from communicating our achievements and successes effectively.”

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