PDM cautions against unnecessary Cabinet reshuffle by the new President

Martin Endjala

Following the passing of President Hage Geingob on Sunday, a Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) Member of Parliament Vipuakuje Muharukua, has called on the new President not to make unnecessary changes to high government positions and cautioned against a possible Cabinet reshuffle.

“I trust that whoever assumes office will not rock the boat with unnecessary changes and reshuffles, pending the actual elections in November. I also expect that cabinet will now more than ever act as a joint and united force to depict continuity and smooth transitions,” said Muharukua.

Muharukua said the terms of office are regulated by Article 29 of the constitution, in terms whereof the term of the president is 5 years unless it is frustrated by prescribed events.

For the present purposes, the possible succession he said, is triggered by the untimely death of former President Hage Geingob, and Article 29 (4)(a), provides that in the event of death, the vacancy of the president shall be filled under article 34 of the constitution; because the vacancy is within a year from the next (November) Presidential Election, the vacancy may be filled in terms of art 34 for the remainder of the presidential term.

“However, had this occurred more than a year from the envisaged presidential election, then an election would have been required to be held within 90 days from the vacancy. At present there shall be no constitutional requirement to hold an election before the looming November election, he explained.

In terms of Article 34, Maharukua elaborated that the chronological order of succession, in order of priority dictates that the Vice President; Prime minister; Deputy Prime Minister; or a member of cabinet (elected among their peerage) are to act as President.

Practically, if the higher ranking waives their right to assume office till 20 March 2025, the ensuing may exercise the right and assume office. For example, if the Prime Minister and Vice-President refuse to assume office, the Deputy Prime Minister can become president.

Given that the Deputy Prime Minister is the Swapo candidate for the November 2024 election, in terms of ACT 29 (6), assuming such office will not count as part of her two-term constitutional limitation.

Adding that if all things were equal, she would be entitled to a further full ten years as president should she win the November election.

Muharukua also paid tribute to the late President, saying the nation had been hit hard and unexpectedly too soon by the loss of the President.

“This is the time for the mourning of our revered statesman, his excellency our President Hage G Geingob. I trust the ruling party and the cabinet will draw from the 1990 transitional period experiences to keep us on the course of stability. I hope all leaders and Namibians at large will allow the nation to grieve this sudden loss.

One is rather grateful that the president bravely tried to prepare his nation for this day. Yet the day still came too soon for all of us, but more so for his wife, children, extended family and the party that he leads,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Council Secretary Tousy Namiseb also shared similar sentiments explaining that, since the vacancy occurs less than a year before the November elections, ACT 29(4)(a) will apply.

Namiseb indicated that ACT 34 will apply and VP must act for the unexpired period and fresh elections within three months will not apply.

“VP is not absent and must take office. He has no choice but to accept or say I’m not available. Substantive elections will still go ahead in November 2024,” he stated.

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