Goodbye

Eight governors were sent packing by President Hage Geingob (photo) in the country's biggest reshuffle of regional heads yet.

09 April 2020 | Government

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK

President Hage Geingob has got rid of more than half of the country's 14 regional governors, retaining only six.

Speculation is rife as to what might have motivated the biggest shakeup of governors since independence, with eight new faces ushered into governorship.

Some Swapo insiders have called the new appointments “rocks in the wilderness”, saying the new governors were thrown into the deep end to prove themselves in the job, and not necessarily because they have any track record in the field.



Party dynamics

Political analyst Graham Hopwood somewhat agrees, saying the appointments had more to do with Swapo's internal dynamics than the merits of good work.

“The current system is a non-accountable extension of Swapo's patronage network,” he said.

“I don't think we should have regional governors appointed by the president in the first place. It would be far better to have directly elected governors or the system that was in place until 2010 - with regional councillors selecting a governor from among their ranks.”

With the exception of Kavango East governor Samuel Mbambo, who allegedly asked to be relieved of his duties, others were seemingly shown the door because they were not in Geingob's good books for varying reasons.



Paid the price

Some, who considered themselves 'foot soldiers' of Swapo and were allegedly boastful that they were responsible for making Geingob president, are said to have paid the price for their choice of words.

“Geingob wanted to prove a point with some of his appointments,” a Swapo source said.

The outgoing governors were apparently not afforded the courtesy of being told in advance that Geingob no longer needed their services.

“That's between me and the president,” said Otto Ipinge, governor of Otjozondjupa Region, when asked how he came to learn that he would be replaced by James Uerikua. One of the governors in the two southern regions apparently learned that she was replaced through information circulated on WhatsApp while she was addressing a meeting.





“It would be interesting to know if the appointments and dismissals were based on any kind of assessment or performance management agreements. “I don't think the current system does anything to promote decentralisation or regional accountability,” he said.



In and out

Those not retained are Lucia Basson (//Karas), Otto Ipinge (Otjozondjupa), Samuel Mbambo (Kavango East), Esme Isaacs (Hardap), Festus Ueitele (Omaheke), Cleophas Mutjavikua (Erongo), Usko Nghaamwa (Ohangwena) and Henock Kankoshi (Oshikoto).

The newly appointed governors are Aletta Fredericks (//Karas), Salomon April (Hardap), Neville Andre (Erongo), Bonifatius Wakudumo (Kavango East), Walde Ndevashiya (Ohangwena), Pijoo Nganate (Omaheke), Penda ya Ndakolo (Oshikoto) and James Uerikua (Otjozondjupa).

Retaining their positions are Sirkka Ausiku (Kavango West), Laura McLeod-Katjirua (Khomas), Marius Sheya (Kunene), Erginus Endjala (Omusati), Elia Irimari (Oshana) and Lawrence Sampofu (Zambezi).



Reactions

Mutjavikua, Mbambo, Ueitele and Iipinge all said yesterday that they were grateful for the opportunity to serve.

“I'm available to serve government or the party again,” said Mutjavikua, who said the burning issue in the region is fishermen who lost their jobs in recent years, partially due to the Fishrot scandal.

Ueitele said: “I am not the only resident of Omaheke and I also replaced someone, so it is normal for someone else to also take over from me.”

“I knew my term was ending, so I was not caught off-guard.

Ipinge said: “I presided over some successful developments here, including the establishment of Cheetah Cement factory near Otjiwarongo, so I am happy.”

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