An investigation by the Windhoek Observer has revealed that some of the ambassadors and high commissioners whose tour of duties came to an end this week will head back to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation while others will go back to the ministries where they were originally employed.
President Hage Geingob has redeployed long-serving Namibian Ambassador to Austria, Simon Maruta (58), who has been in the foreign mission for nearly 21 years in various capacities.
Maruta, who served as first secretary at the Namibian Embassy/Permanent Mission at Vienna and Austria from 1997-2002 before he was appointed as ambassador, will now work in Windhoek in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation.
Maruta has been succeeded by Ambassador Nada Kruger.
Geingob also replaced the country’s Ambassador and Representative to the United Nations at Geneva, Sabine Bӧhlke Möller with Penda Naanda.
Bӧhlke Möller is also returning to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation.
Morina Muuondjo, who was Namibian Ambassador to Sweden, also rejoins the ministry after she completed her five-year term in the Scandinavian country.
She is replaced by George Liswaniso.
Career diplomat, Jerobeam Shaanika, has also been reassigned to the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation after completing his term as the Namibian Ambassador to Cuba. He has been there for five years.
Other ambassadors who are back in public service are former Namibia High Commissioner to Botswana, Mbapeua Muvangua, and former Otjozondjupa Regional Governor, Grace Uushona, who was also Namibian Ambassador to Angola.
Uushona takes over as Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President from Samuel /Goagoseb, who has been appointed as Ambassador to Cuba.
Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Steve Katjiuanjo and his counterpart in Nigeria, Peingondjambi Shipoh, will also be returning to the public service.
It was not immediately clear whether they will head back to the ministries where they were previously employed or if they would be re-assigned to other ministries at the same rank they held before their departure for diplomatic service.
Katjiuanjo was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth while Shipoh was PS in the Ministry of Justice.
The two were appointed high commissioners in 2013 by former President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the two will replace Ambassador Patrick Nandago and Emilia Mkusa at the Ministry of Home Affairs and National Council, respectively.
Nandago is the new Namibian Ambassador to Angola while Mkusa was secretary to the National Council. She has been posted to Ethiopia and the African Union.
Secretary to Cabinet, George Simataa, did not respond to questions sent to him on whether the two returning diplomats will take up the two vacant positions.
The Windhoek Observer also understands that former Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Wilbard Hellao, Nangula Ithete from the Embassy in France, Leonard Nambahu in Zambia, Pius Dunaiski in India, Sophia-Namupa Nangombe in Japan and Ndali Chѐ Kamati in Russia, will retire after completing their diplomatic tours of duty and reaching the civil service age of retirement.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation, Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, confirmed that Muvangua, Shaanika, Muuondjo, Maruta and MӦller will be back at the ministry because they have not reached retirement age yet.
She also said that those ambassadors who were posted to diplomatic missions from other ministries will rejoin the ministries where they came from or would be assigned to different departments within the public service.
Sources in the ministry said Muuondjo would head the department of bilateral relations and cooperation which was left vacant by Morven Luswenyo who has been appointed as Ambassador to Japan.
Ashipala-Musavyi, however, said she was not aware of this.
“ What I know is that they can be assigned to various departments within the ministry not necessarily that they will take up the positions left by those who have been assigned because even those ambassadors who came back they have public service ranks, some are directors and some are deputy directors,” she said.
Other vacant positions in the ministry are Director of Southern Africa, a position previously held by Kruger; Head of Treaties and Agreements which until Monday this week was occupied by Liswaniso, and Director in the Office of the Permanent Secretary, which was left vacant by Naanda.
Commenting on this week’s appointments, political commentator, Henning Melber, said Namibia still lacks a coherent foreign policy beyond the declared aim to promote economic interests.
“But even there the president seems to travel for this, rather than to trust the diplomats posted abroad to do the job. I would welcome a stronger focus on human rights, which is applied much more coherently and not only - as laudable as this is - in consequent solidarity with the West Sahara and Palestine.
“We would be much more credible if we would apply a value oriented human rights policy also beyond loyalties to alliances and blocs and take a similar strong stand in other cases (such as, for a recent example, Myamar),” he said.
While political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah said that the whole new crop of diplomats completely different from traditional diplomats. With the exception of one or two, the rest have no experience in international relations or diplomacy.
“ Traditionally what we have seen is that people with experience and education in international relations or diplomacy or those working in the ministry of international relations were given priority. But Geingob has cracked that unspoken code and completely curving his own way when it comes to our interaction with the world.
“This means they will have to learn on the job, which both has negative and positive effects. But I think we have to analyze the president's move from the perspective of presidential legacy politics.
“The president is trying to cement his legacy in our foreign relations policy in the sense that by the time he will leave the office his legacy will remain intact. You only can achieve that by introducing and training new people people who will advance your agenda. We may as well call the new face of diplomats, the Harambee diplomats. Expect the Harambee PP to dominate our international relations,”