Namibia’s President, Hage Geingob has appointed a 23-year-old woman, Emma Theofilus as Deputy Information and Technology Minister.
She has also been appointed as one of the eight presidential nominees for the country’s national assembly.
This makes her the youngest Minister and Member of Parliament in the Southern African country.
Her appointment comes at a time when the youth in Namibia had been calling for the introduction of younger people into the country’s leadership structure which is largely made up of retiring old folks.
Theofilus who is a law graduate said she got to know about her appointment through a “surprisingly rare” phone call from the State House.
Speaking to The Namibian she said “I do not think I am special, but I do not think I am inexperienced, and I do not think being young or female has anything to do with my appointment. Anything I set myself to and any environment I want to work into, I can do it; so the issue of inexperience does not hold any water.”
“I am excited. I am told I will be used as a benchmark for young people. I take on the challenge like I have taken other leadership roles. It is uncharted territory and political space but I am ready to take on the challenge,” she said in a separate interview.
The country’s old elites are however not happy with her appointment. Some have questioned her competence but she has vowed to prove herself worthy.
A former youth activist Ester Simon said “It is not just inclusivity but the president is showing and demonstrating practical example and has trust in us as young people.”
Before she was appointed, Theofilus was a legal officer in the Ministry of Justice where she dealt with drafting human rights reports as well as implementing the human rights strategy of the nation, among others.
Theofilus said she will not start work at the ministry thinking or behaving like “I know it all.”
“So of course the minister, being the head and political appointee, and the deputy minister allow the whole ministerial position to function. It is a supporting role, just like any law has supporting regulations to allow it to function.”
“I do not think being a deputy minister is a role that cannot be brought to life, the person should know what they have planned for that position and anybody can do it. It is not an insignificant role,” she added.