Presidency defends Nicanor appointment

Says there is a void at veterans' affairs

11 November 2019 | Government

The presidency has defended President Hage Geingob's decision to appoint Swapo spokesperson Hilma Nicanor as special advisor in the office of the vice-president as necessary to carry the mandate of the veterans' affairs portfolio.

Nicanor was among 18 Swapo officials who needed to resign from their jobs under Article 47 of the Namibian constitution upon acceptance of nomination for the National Assembly election.

The veterans' affairs portfolio is headed at the level of a deputy minister, and with the incumbent resigning, the directorate was left without a substantive political head.

This, said presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari, necessitated Nicanor's appointment “to ensure continuity and effective implementation of programmes in that ministry.”

“The facts speak for themselves. Not all the 18 members of the Swapo Party who resigned from their jobs to remain as candidates for the National Assembly were given jobs as advisors. Only one,” said Hengari, himself an advisor in the presidency.

Geingob was accused of cronyism for appointing Nicanor for a period of five months while preaching the need to contain costs in the bloated public service.

But Hengari hit back by stating that veterans' affairs had been led at deputy minister's level exactly for the purpose of cutting the wage bill.

“We all have to be reminded that Namibia exists for the people, and the president elected through direct universal suffrage is the perfect embodiment of their will and wisdom, irrespective of the fact that we may sit in the 13% that did not vote for him in 2014,” said Hengari.

“This places a greater obligation on any newsroom in a democracy to respect the will of the people by putting on public record the great deeds and feats of an elected president,” he added, as he took a shot at how the Nicanor appointment had been reported in the media.

“A free press and free speech are foundational values of our republic – and they came at great cost. This places a greater responsibility on the media and the press not to function as propaganda passed off as news, activated against a democratically elected president,” Hengari said.