‘I won’t humiliate ministers’

The president has his back against the wall over the perceived level of corruption in the country.

16 April 2021 | Government

STAFF REPORTER

WINDHOEK

President Hage Geingob yesterday said he will not humiliate ministers accused of corruption by firing them, as questions mount against his administration’s preference to rather have such cabinet members resign.

During the State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly yesterday, Geingob claimed he always had dismissal letters ready, in case concerned ministers refuse to resign voluntarily.

In its six years in office, the Geingob administration lost four ministers to allegations and conviction of corruption.

Former ministers Sacky Shanghala (justice), Bernard Esau (fisheries), Katrina Hanse-Himarwa (education) and Peter Vilho (defence) all resigned between 2019 and 2021.

Hanse-Himarwa was convicted of corruption related to distribution of government houses at Mariental, while Shanghala and Esau are in jail awaiting trial over fishing quota bribery claims.

Vilho’s Hong Kong unit trust account and his alleged role in monies transferred from defence manufacturing company August 26 entered the public sphere recently, leading to his resignation.

The only ministers fired by Geingob during his time in office were Jerry Ekandjo and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, who differed with him politically ahead of the Swapo elective congress of 2017.

Gone is gone

Yesterday, Geingob defended his record in fighting corruption when he responding to accusations that he had a snowflake approach to this deepening social evil.

“People are in jail, ministers,” he said of Shanghala and Esau.

“This is because we know that corruption denied people benefits.

“People are questioning my commitment to fighting corruption. Apparently I must fire people [instead of letting them resign].

“Whether a person dies by firing squad or by lethal injection, as they do in America, the end result is the same – which is death,” he remarked.

“Therefore, whether I fire the person or force them to resign, the end result is that they have vacated office to allow for free investigations. You don’t just humiliate people for the sake of humiliating them.”

The head of state came to the National Assembly with a bunch of letters he had written to several ministers during the span of his administration, asking them to explain allegations of corruption against them.

“I wrote letters to people like [former works minister Alpheus] !Naruseb and went on to ask ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] to investigate.”

In his prepared speech, Geingob said: “Corruption is dishonesty and robs the country of resources intended for development.”

Give or take

The president earlier in the week asked white Namibians to share their wealth or risk the wrath of less privileged people.

Yesterday, he suggested the same in his official speech. “I can assure you that we will stay the course during my term of office, working towards the ideal of a truly inclusive, united and prosperous Namibian House.

“There is no alternative to shared prosperity and there can be no compromise to this principle. I often repeat what Prof. Stieglitz said, ‘The only growth that is sustainable, is shared growth. Prosperity that is not shared, will not be sustainable.’ In that vein, the fiscal and policy focus of the government is geared towards wealth redistribution in order to secure a sustainable future for each and every Namibian.”

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