Katrina quits

President Hage Geingob has accepted the resignation of education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who was convicted of corruption on Monday.

10 July 2019 | Government

Education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa quit President Hage Geingob's cabinet yesterday, a day after she was found guilty of corruption by the Windhoek High Court.

The former Hardap governor was found guilty of corruption by High Court Judge Christie Liebenberg on Monday. She will be sentenced on 24 July.

Hanse-Himarwa was found guilty of corruptly using her former office as Hardap governor for gratification, and for removing two Mass Housing beneficiaries from a waiting list to make way for two of her relatives.

She said yesterday she strongly believes that all Namibians, including public office-bearers, have the right to a fair trial and are innocent until proven guilty.

“In light of the High Court of Namibia's verdict yesterday (on Monday), I intend to exercise my full legal rights through the appropriate legal channels. I understand the seriousness of the conviction and I am also mindful of the president's strong views on transparency and accountability.

“In this light, I hereby confirm that I have requested to be relieved of my duties as minister of education, arts and culture with immediate effect,” Hanse-Himarwa said in a bombshell statement yesterday.

“I wish to thank President Hage Geingob for his forthright and principled leadership. Serving in his cabinet has been an honour and a privilege, from which I have learned immense lessons.

“One of my observations has been a concerted effort to portray him in a negative light and dilute, disparage and diminish his leadership. I apologise to both him and the Namibian people, as I know this conviction has been a source of disappointment and distress for many who know me.” In his judgment on Monday, Judge Liebenberg said the State had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Hanse-Himarwa's version of events was false.





“It was duly established that the accused, as governor of the Hardap Region, clearly abused the power and authority vested in her office when insisting that the list of beneficiaries under the MHDP (Mass Housing Development Project) be amended to her satisfaction, thereby ensuring that at least one of her family members benefited directly from her actions. The accused's actions were intentional and constituted a chargeable offence under the Anti-Corruption Act (ACA),” Judge Liebenberg ruled.



Constitutional oath

Hanse-Himarwa said yesterday when she was appointed as education minister on 20 March 2015, she “took a constitutional oath to, inter alia, uphold, defend and protect the constitution and serve the Namibian people to the best of my ability”.

“I have upheld this constitutional oath with the conscientiousness that was required of me. This resignation is within the context of this obligation,” she said.

“I am immensely proud of what the ministry of education, arts and culture has achieved since my appointment. Due to a committed and hardworking team, we have managed to establish a ministerial culture where mutual respect, cooperation and a singular pursuit of bridging the gaps in the basic education system prevailed.

“I sincerely thank each and every staff member of the ministry of education, arts and culture for their support and I urge them to remain focused and determined to achieve our shared dream of improving the quality of education in Namibia for all our children,” Hanse-Himarwa added.

She also thanked her fellow public office bearers “with whom my path has crossed, and I wish them well as their success is their pursuit of success for the Namibian nation”.

“This has been an incredibly difficult and emotional period for my family and I. Their love and support has been a critical element in my ability to withstand the attacks on my character and numerous unfounded accusations and insults that I have had to endure.

“The same is true for my extended family, community and friends. I am sincerely grateful for your unconditional love and support.

“I have received calls from people from all walks of life, including those with who I have had political differences, and I am grateful for their reminders that the Lord is our fortress.

“My faith remains in Him, and as a believer, I trust in His everlasting love and that He will carry me through these challenging times. I will use this time to reflect and refocus and respectfully request that my privacy be respected,” Hanse-Himarwa added.

In a statement to the media yesterday, presidential press secretary Alfredo Hengari confirmed that the president had accepted Hanse-Himarwa's resignation, adding that his administration was committed to transparency and the fight against corruption.

He commended her for the decision and for respecting the rule of law and the institutions of Namibia.

“President Geingob wishes to thank Honourable Hanse-Himarwa for having served in her ministerial duties the Namibian people with dedication and loyalty,” said Hengari.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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