His Excellency, President of the Republic of Namibia has recently made changes to the country’s second organ of the state, the Executive branch, where he announced the reshuffle to his team. This to some presents a good opportunity to play their part and make a contribution, while to most of us, it is just the same content in a different container. While this long awaited reshuffle gives some a sense of hope, it is equally a call for a concern of certain aspects that were overlooked.
This reshuffle is nothing than just hopelessness shaped along political opportunities and buying of loyalty by the appointing authority, with a deception that it was made with a full consciousness of the state we find ourselves in, especially from the economic and developmental crisis.
Our greatest concern is that, this reshuffle totally missed some critical aspects of competency and gender balance. This has proven to women that, there is hardly an opportunity for them in the executive, given the fact that the reshuffle was in part due to two female ministers, Honourable Sophia Shaningwa and Honourable Pendukeni – Iivula – Ithana leaving their positions. This was an opportunity due to female candidates.
In the same vein, the Director of National Planning Commission, Minister of Sports, Youth and National Service, Minister of Mines and Energy were deputised by women. Instead of elevating them to the executive position, they remained where they are. It is very sad that the president has turned a blind eye to this. With the little progress made so far in empowering women in our land, this exclusion sets us some steps backwards in as far as gender equality if concerned.
According to the SADC Gender Monitor, “the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development aims to empower women socially, economically and politically, eliminate discrimination, achieve gender equality through gender responsive legislation, policies and projects. The SADC Gender Monitor further indicates that the protocol caters for constitutional and legal rights, governance, education and training, productive resources and employment, GBV, health and HIV AIDS, peace building and conflict resolution as well as media, information and communication among other issues that affect women”.
One of the greatest criticisms made of the SADC regional grouping is its habit to make numerous commitments and intentions only on paper without corresponding practical activity and drive to implement the plans, and the recent cabinet reshuffle provides evidence.
Ofcourse we are grateful of the top ministerial portfolios driven by women, but a failure to include any women in the recent changes to the executive is an indication that we are retrogressive in terms of reaching gender balance in legislature and key decision making positions. This is not only a practice in the public sector, but the private sector too has a serious syndrome of undermining the competency of women in key leadership positions.
We therefore call upon the President to consider gender in his equation to ensure that women are equally appointed and treated the same as our counterparts. Women in most cases are best performers, less corrupt and obedient, as opposed to men. One can take a very close example of most of the corrupt activities in the country that, less women are involved and institutions where women are in leadership are performing and one hardly hears of corrupt practices by the top leadership.