Fifteen heads of Namibia’s diplomatic missions around the world face an uncertain future and could be heading back to Windhoek, amid speculation their contracts will not be renewed by President Hage Geingob.
The Windhoek Observer gathered that about 15 Ambassadors and High Commissioners appointed by former President Hifikepunye Pohamba have their tours of duty coming to an end this year.
Heads of Missions are usually appointed during September and return in August when they are recalled or when their terms come to an end.
People familiar with the diplomatic service said this week Geingob may as early as next week announce new heads of mission and a replacement for former ambassador to the United States of America, Martin Andjaba, who has since been appointed as presidential affairs minister.
Geingob, according to sources, may not wait until September because the US is a key Namibian partner.
Speculation over the changes come as Geingob during his State of the Nation Address on 11 April, announced he will make changes to the diplomatic service.
“In the coming months, I shall be making changes to our diplomatic personnel to reflect strengthened priorities, including poverty eradication, economic growth, climate change, peace and security.”
Heads of missions usually serve for a period of four or five years or even more if their contracts are extended.
In September 2013, Pohamba appointed Peingeondjabi Shipoh as High Commissioner to Nigeria, Steve Katjiuanjo as High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Wilbard Hellao as Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Balbina Daes Pienaar as Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Pius Dunaiski as High Commsioner to India, Sophia Nangombe as Ambassador to Japan, Dr Jerobeam Shaanika as Ambassador to the Republic of Cuba.
Morina Muuondjo was appointed Ambassador to Sweden, Sabine Bohlke-Moller as Ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva and other International Organisations in Switzerland and Simon Maruta as Ambassador to Austria.
In 2014, Pohamba further appointed Vilio Hifindaka as Ambassador to Congo Brazzaville, Bonny Haufiku as Ambassador to Finland, Mbapeua Muvangua as High Commissioner to Botswana, Charles Josob as High Commissioner to Ghana and Trudie Amulungu as Ambassador to Senegal.
When contacted for a comment on whether Geingob would recall diplomats whose terms are coming to an end, Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari, Press Secretary and Presidential Advisor Office of the President suggested that the questions from the Windhoek Observer be dealt with on Tuesday.
Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi told the Windhoek Observer that it was the prerogative of Geingob to renew the contracts or recall the heads of mission.
“He can bring back some, he can rotate them, it’s within his domain. The international practice is that they can come to the capital or they can be sent from one mission to another.”
Ashipala-Musavyi explained that new heads of mission serving for the first time in the Foreign Service go through an induction course at the ministry.