By the look of things, this is not a bad idea at all given the sorry state in which the sector finds itself. So many people applauded the President for this move. The Swanu President, Usutuaije Maamberua said: “I think it’s a welcome and a bold move by the President.”
But as someone who has been pointing to many of the problems that confront our country; I had to take a more critical, not cynical, view of Pohamba’s many promises.
Let it not be forgotten for a single moment that when Pohamba succeeded former President Sam Nujoma he promised zero tolerance for corruption, calling it a cancer, and he also promised that all the commissions of inquiry by predecessor Sam Nujoma would be made public. We are still waiting for Pohamba to live up to his promises, if at all this will happen. The public, especially the workers, are still waiting for the outcome of the GIFP report which he and his Cabinet have been sitting on for years only to announce that a ‘new’ audit is being carried out. These various reports still have to see the light of day.
Then again this year the President again ordered the Minister of Lands and Resettlement, Alpheus Naruseb, to investigate the circumstances surround Tjekero Tweya’s fencing off of a large chunk of communal land (approximately 3 000 hectares) in the Okavango Region. That report has not been made public as yet. But the catch here is that Pohamba himself and other high ranking officials of his Administration have also fenced off land in the Okavango Region. So there is no one with moral high ground here – who is to investigate whom? They are all ‘partners in crime’.
Thus, Pohamba decided to go for the most lightweight case – inquiry into activities, affairs, management and operations of the Ministry of Health and Social Services. The cop-out here is that no one will be held criminally responsible because these are purely operational matters. This is basically not different from last year’s National Conference on Education – whose recommendations are still to be implemented. Thus there is no need to ‘urge Pohamba to make the results public’ as Maamberua demanded, because he will do that in any case. What surprised me though was the Minister of Health, Richard Kamwi, also urging the President to make the finding of the report public while he knows precisely that no one will be incriminated in it. As a Cabinet member, Kamwi can perhaps assist us in urging the President and his Cabinet colleagues to release all the previous reports commissioned by government over the years.
Minister Kamwi as well as the general public know most of the problems that have troubled this sector over the years. For example, a big chunk of the complaints in the SMSes in The Namibian are devoted to health-related issues. Many of the complaints don’t call for a commission of inquiry. The problems are already known: the crumbling infrastructure at our hospitals, shortage of ambulances, lack of oxygen, long queues, under-paid nurses etc.
Pohamba has also been part of the problem at this ministry through his appointment of some of the top people there. In the first place he decided to appoint Kahijoro Kahuure, someone with no medical training, background or experience, as a permanent secretary. After a few years of trying to cope in an unfamiliar environment, Kahuure was replaced by an equally unqualified candidate as a PS of the ministry – Andrew Ndishishi. Granted, these people are qualified in other fields and that’s where they should be appointed, because the Ministry of Health is a sensitive one as we are dealing with people’s lives. Even though a PS is an administrator, such a person still needs to be in tune with the latest issues, developments and trends in the health sector. So it is not a sector for any Jack or Jill.
This commission report will definitely be made public because there is nothing special about. This is a pure placation of the people by a President who has failed to confront the critical issues facing this nation and also failed to live up to his many promises of making the Nujoma commissions public. But at least he will retire with a clear conscious that he made his one report public unlike his predecessor.