Namibian President Hage Geingob on Thursday fired two cabinet ministers, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, the Immigration Minister, and Jerry Ekandjo, the Youth Minister.
Geingob informed both Iivula-Ithana and Ekandjo of the dismissal from the cabinet in letters dated Feb. 1.
Iivula-Ithana and Ekandjo were some of the ruling Swapo party leaders who challenged Geingob’s slate ahead of the party’s elective congress in 2017.
As members of Team Swapo, Iivula-Ithana and Ekandjo teamed up with former Prime Minister Nahas Angula to take on Geingob’s slate.
Ekandjo and Angula were challenging Geingob for the party’s presidency, while Iivula-Ithana was vying for the party’s vice presidency.
The dismissals came after Geingob had written letters to both Iivula-Ithana and Ekandjo on Dec. 8, 2017, asking them to explain why they should not be fired after a grueling campaign.
During the campaign, Ekandjo said Geingob’s leadership as the Swapo acting president was weak saying “that was the reason why the government was weak.’’
Iivula-Ithana accused Geingob of overriding the party’s constitution and causing confusion.
In one of the letters seen by Xinhua and addressed to Iivula-Ithana, Geingob said he had used the powers vested in him by the Constitution to relieve them of their duties.
He told Iivula-Ithana that the dismissal should not be seen as a “blight on the immense personal sacrifices, as well as the immeasurable contribution you have made in the interest” of Namibia.
“These feats are for which the people of Namibia shall always hold you in the highest regard,” Geingob said.
Iivula-Ithana went into exile to Zambia in 1974 and was the first female fighters in the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).
She was active in the Swapo Youth League and the Swapo Women’s Council whose Secretary she became in 1980.
Ekandjo was one of the founding members of the Swapo Youth League and has been one of the most active internal leading members of the Swapo during the liberation struggle.
He spent eight years in prison on Robben Island after being charged for inciting violence in 1973.
Ekandjo has been a member of the Cabinet of Namibia since independence in 1990 serving in various ministerial positions.