Cheers to a smaller cabinet

06 January 2020 | Opinion

“I made it clear during the final cabinet meeting of 2019 that we can no longer conduct business as usual.”

President Hage Geingob made this bold statement in his New Year's message to the nation last week. The statement oozes fortitude and a renewed sense of purpose.

Broadly, the message is that the head of state wants things done differently this year. It's the kind of stuff nations ordinarily want to hear from those leading them.

The problem, especially in Africa, has always been that there exists a gulf between what leaders say and what they actually do.

Often than not, there is in fact a sharp contrast between their promises and their actual doings. But here President Geingob has a chance to show everyone that he does not belong to that unwanted breed of African leaders, whose left hand is never sure of what the right hand is busy with.

Among things he promised for 2020 is a downsized cabinet. This already marks one of the moments the nation is looking forward to this year. Namibians will be eagle-eyed to see if this is indeed a genuine exercise, or one that is shrouded in deception.

Geingob also promised an intensified fight against poverty, and specifically the fight against corruption. On poverty, our wish is that government shifts its approach from being a provider of social safety nets, often characterised by handouts, to a more sustainable solution of job creation.

That way, families can feed themselves rather than wait for volunteers of, for example, food banks to knock on their doors.

Regarding corruption, Geingob will be under intense scrutiny when he announces his cabinet and how the so-called Fishrot saga would be treated. If the President appoints dodgy characters to his new cabinet, he would have already reneged on his promise of fighting corruption and enhancing transparency.

In the Fishrot saga, we hope to see state institutions being allowed to independently carry out their duties without interference and intimidation. Any such occurrences would render Geingob's promises fake and unintended.