Holding the Cards in New Govt

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob’s friends and allies are being accused of meddling with the running of the state by allegedly trying to influence the reshuffling and appointment of permanent secretaries.

Geingob’s detractors believe that his actions, or that of those close to him, contradict what he has been saying in public as Namibia’s third President.

Ruling party sources have accused Geingob and his close allies of foul play in the way government intends to execute a reshuffle of permanent secretaries said to be imminent. The government also intends to appoint a host of new accounting officers, at the same time it is being sued by two ditched veteran accounting officers who want their jobs back.

While talk of a permanent secretary reshuffle is rife, Geingob’s political allies and businessmen friends are accused of having a behind-the-scene role in the placements and appointments.

The Namibian has learnt that Geingob’s allies, even those who do not have government positions, have been working behind the scenes to place their preferred candidates at a number of strategic ministries.

The reasoning is that by making sure friendly permanent secretaries are placed at strategic ministries they will secure future favours.

Sources from both the ruling party and government pointed out that businessmen who are close to secretary to Cabinet George Simataa and President Geingob have been going around with CVs of permanent secretaries to decide who should be placed where. One such incident is alleged to have taken place on a farm belonging to businessman Veino Nghipondoka, situated between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo. This meeting allegedly took place during the first week of April.

Nghipondoka is known to be close to both Geingob and Simataa.

Swapo Oshikoto regional coordinator and close friend and ally of Geingob allegedly went to the farm to discuss the reshuffling of PSes with other close political allies and business associates.

Nghipondoka described such allegations as rubbish and being far from the truth. He said he has not seen Amukwiyu during that period and that Amukwiyu did not visit his farm either.

Amukwiyu said he had no mandate to act in such a way since he does not work for government in any capacity. Amukwiyu denied that he was involved in any such activities.

There also appears to be confusion between Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Simataa. Both point to the other as the office responsible for appointments and redeployment of permanent secretaries.

While sources said permanent secretaries are uncertain about their futures, especially since rumours about their redeployment has been making the rounds, those officers considered unfriendly will either be pushed out to foreign postings as ambassadors or will be appointed at ministries or institutions not deemed strategic.

The Namibian has also learnt that Kuugongelwa-Amadhila is tasked with the responsibility of reshuffling the PSes.

Amukwiyu made headlines last month after The Namibian reported that Geingob was planning to push for him to be appointed as Swapo acting vice president.

Geingob is acting Swapo president after Pohamba handed him the party’s symbols of power. Amukwiyu is close to Geingob and many in Swapo consider him his eyes and ears within the party.

Swapo sources said that it is for that reason that many people on the Swapo National Assembly list were lobbying Amukwiyu to put in a good word for them with Geingob.

This is all happening behind the scenes while Geingob is making speeches which appeal to the public.

During his State of the Nation address Geingob said government officials will no longer be allowed to run side businesses.

He said that they will not be allowed to hide their private interest and to receive kickbacks from transactions they dealt with while executing their duties.

Simataa’s office responded by saying it was not aware of any upcoming permanent secretaries reshuffle. Simataa’s emailed response said that “the secretary to Cabinet does not approach businesspeople for aice or anything related to the appointment or transfer of permanent secretaries”.

Source : The Namibian