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Tuesday, 27 August, 2002, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Surprise reshuffle in Namibia
President Sam Nujoma
Will Nujoma still step down in 2004?
President Sam Nujoma of Namibia has announced a cabinet reshuffle which demotes the prime minister.

Hage Geingob is being replaced by Foreign Affairs Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab.

Mr Geingob has been offered the post of local government and housing minister.

The demotion of close political allies comes after President Nujoma publicly warned party members of the danger of factionalism at a recent ruling party congress and is bound to raise questions about his stated intention to step down at the next election in 2004.

Local journalist Brigitte Weidlich says that anything is possible and that Mr Guirab may also be being groomed as Mr Nujoma's successor.

The Namibian constitution was changed three years ago to allow Mr Nujoma - who is the country's founding president since 1990 - to stand for president for a third term.

In other significant changes, President Nujoma gives himself responsibility for the information and broadcasting portfolio and current Trade Minister Hidipo Hamutenya will take over the foreign affairs portfolio.

Land

At the just ended Swapo party conference, Mr Nujoma announced plans to confiscate 192 farms "belonging to foreign absentee landlords".

He also repeated an earlier warning to white farmers that the "landless majority of our citizens are growing impatient by the day".

"If those arrogant white farmers and absentee landlords do not embrace the Government's policy of willing-buyer willing-seller now it will be too late tomorrow."

About 4,000, mostly white, commercial farmers own just under half the arable land.

Namibia's government is committed to the principle of "willing buyer/willing seller" - which means no one is forced to sell up, but if they do the state gets first refusal.

So far Namibia has avoided the violent scenes witnessed in neighbouring Zimbabwe

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Theo Ben Gurirab, new PM on Focus on Africa
"The challenges are many and daunting for our young country"
Brigitte Weidlich
"The prime minister has completely fallen out of favour"
See also:

09 Feb 01 | Africa
04 Aug 00 | Africa
02 Oct 00 | Africa
21 Mar 00 | Africa
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