THE political surgical knife of President Hage Geingob, on the eve of his second term in office, has cut deep, with the current twenty-six ministries now trimmed down to nineteen following several mergings.
The President also today announced the abolishing of certain political appointees as a cost cutting measure.
The new cabinet structure is largely aimed at the better alignment and avoiding the duplication of mandates.
“In making these changes, I have been mindful of the need to optimise the structure of government to give fresh impetus to our plans for economic recovery and growth, while balancing the need for renewal and continuity,” he said.
Dr. Geingob also said during the announcement at State House that he will in due course announce the appointment of the Vice President, Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.
The President added that he will then announce the new cabinet ministers and deputy ministers after being sworn-in on 21 March 2020.
The new structure will include the Presidency, which consists of the President, the Vice President, ministers, special advisors and other staff, as may be appointed by the President.
There will, therefore, be a minister in the Presidency who will be responsible for Parliamentary affairs and will act as the interface between Regional Governors and the President, following the necessary legislative amendment.
Gender mainstreaming and Poverty Eradication have been merged and elevated to the Presidency.
The Vice President, assisted by a Minister, will oversee the cluster of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.
This arm will be responsible for social safety nets such as the food bank, old age social grants and grants for orphans and vulnerable children, disability and marginalised communities.
Dr. Geingob further noted that to stimulate private sector led economic growth and recovery, the function of Investment Promotion and SME Development will be elevated to the Presidency, as a matter of priority.
For this purpose, he said, the Namibia Investment Centre will be replaced by the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board.
“The head of this entity will be appointed by the President. The Board is mandated to promote a conducive business environment and market Namibia as a favourable investment destination,” Geingob explained.
The Prime Minister will oversee the implementation of cabinet decisions; the implementation of the Performance Management System and Disaster Risk Management with the support of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Ministries that have not been changed include the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Service.
Other ministries that will remain the same are the Ministry of Urban and Rural Development, the Ministry of Works and Transport, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technologies and the Ministry of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation.
Although the Ministry of Public Enterprises will remain the same, as per the recommendation of the High Level Panel on the Namibian Economy, it will be phased out upon completion of its mandate.
The Home Affairs ministry has been merged with the Safety and Security ministry and will be the custodian of the National Population Register and facilitates lawful migration.
It will now also carry the mandate of internal security, maintaining the law and order and providing the safe custody of offenders.
In another move, the defence ministry has now been merged with the Ministry of Veterans Affairs to defend the territorial integrity and national security interests of Namibia and administer the operations of the Namibian Defence Force. It will also continue with the administration of Veteran Grants.
The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade, which previously also had an SME arm, will promote economic development by setting and implementing Industrial Policy to boost domestic productive capacities and diversification.
It is also responsible for providing clear Investment Policies and legislative frameworks to boost Namibia’s competitiveness and ease of doing business.
“SME development presents enormous potential for job creation and for this reason, the SME development mandate formerly housed in this Ministry, has been elevated to the Presidency through the Namibia Investment Promotion & Development Board,” Geingob said.
The President further announced the merging of Agriculture ministry with the Land Reform ministry.
The new ministry will now be called the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land reform.
It is mandated to promote the productivity of the agricultural sector towards food security and sustainable land and water resources management.
Another new kid on the block, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism will promote biodiversity conservation, through sustainable utilisation of natural resources and to develop a sustainable tourism industry that contributes significantly to the livelihood of Namibians.
“Namibia is highly exposed to the effects of Climate Change and there is need to expedite the implementation of Climate Resilient Strategies and unlock economic opportunities through Greening Namibia,” said Dr. Geingob.