Last Friday, the finance ministry bade farewell to one of the strongest and most influential administrators in the country since independence, Ms Ericah Shafudah, executive director of the finance ministry. Many of us were silent when we heard the sudden announcement of his resignation at a management meeting in June. A surprising gesture that no one had seen coming.
Ms Shafudah’s early retirement immediately made headlines in two major local newspapers the next morning, boosting the power of her administrator. Powerful in terms of knowledge, wisdom, patriotism and dedication to duty. She is arguably one of the best heads of government Namibia has ever had, and should be celebrated by all.
Born in the village of Eendadi daShafudah in the Ohangwena region to Meme Rosalia Vanyenga yaShilola and Tate Shafudah shaHeishi yaNghililewanga, Ericah Paendelenga yaShafudah comes from a large but humble family. She is one of 56 children born to her father, grandson of a leading traditional chief in the history of Oukwanyama, Tatekulu Nghililewanga yaShinangolo.
Her mother died when she was a young girl and therefore moved to live with her aunt in Onamunama village. She grew up in a Christian family, going to church any other Sunday, and as busy as she is, Ms. Shafudah is still an active member of St. Michael’s Anglican Church in Windhoek, and often has to intersect between church and government activities.
Like many young people her age at the time, in 1978 she crossed the Namibian border into Angola to join thousands of Namibians who fled the country to fight for independence. She is one of the survivors of the Cassinga massacre, which took place on May 4, 1978. She was among the young Swapo who were sent to Cuba for studies shortly after the Cassinga massacre for a period of 12 years where she among his many graduates with a master’s degree in education.
Upon returning from exile in 1990, Ericah, a young girl, accepted a position as a math teacher at Haimbili Haufiku High School in Ohangwena region and where she moved to Paresis High School in Otjiwarongo. . In 1995, she left the teaching profession to join the National Planning Commission as an economist.
Ms. Shafudah believes not only in hard work, but also in lifelong learning. Today, she has several high-level diplomas including a master’s degree in biostatistics and a master’s degree in leadership and change management.
She joined the government at a time when there was a skills shortage to drive the Public Sector Investment Program, a five-year strategic plan in formulating the national budget, which reflects public investment against national priority areas. of development. Namibia then relied more on expatriates. Tate Andrew Ndishishi often sang his praises when we met, reflected on our public service journey saying, “We needed a strong mathematician in formulating the national budget so that our projection error was minimal and Ericah was there, she was. very few Namibians with such skills.
Indeed, Mee Ericah is an exemplary product of the Swapo revolution.
She has been involved in the development of the national budget for the past 26 years, which is almost her entire career in the public service. Her experience is so immense and many in the public service would agree that working with her was indeed a privilege.
Although a finance student, she is also a seasoned economist and played a large role in the economic modeling of Namibia while working at the National Planning Commission. Together with his team, their work has helped the government not only to mobilize resources from donor agencies, but also to attract foreign investors to the country.
She joined the Ministry of Finance in 2002 as Undersecretary of the Treasury (now known as Deputy Executive Director), responsible for the State Accounts Department responsible for preparing the national budget. She then moved on to become Deputy Permanent Secretary and later Permanent Secretary (now called Executive Director) in the same ministry. She led the ministry through a period of significant change and numerous reforms in the management of public finances and the civil service in general. Mee Shafudah has played a strategic oversight role in a number of policy developments and reforms that have resulted in the creation of new state institutions such as NamibRE, NASRIA, CPBN and NamRA.
Nonetheless, Mee Shafudah is an outstanding civil servant and a great team player. She passed on knowledge at all levels of her professional career. Under his leadership, many members of the staff of the two former departments of Customs and Excise as well as Internal Taxes of the Ministry of Finance were given the opportunity to continue their studies abroad, and some of them obtained master’s degree. She’s not the type of leader who puts weight on her subordinates, but she’s been a good professional mom and always wants everyone around her to thrive. Needless to say, she wasn’t an easy-going boss either, and a number of coworkers can attest to being the butt of her warnings as she always keeps a smile on her face. To her, titles and status don’t matter, what matters is uncompromising service delivery in the public sector space.
I have had the privilege of serving under her wings for the past two years as a public relations manager reporting directly to this extraordinary woman. Despite the short duration of my mandate, I learned a lot about my professional skills and about public finances thanks to her. His writing skills and approach to issues are impeccable. She did her job with passion and love for the nation. From Monday to Friday, Mee Ericah was in post until late and sometimes until the next morning due to the critical role and workload of the Department of Finance. She understood that the ministry is the heart of the nation, and the work had to be done at all costs.
You will never see Mee Ericah complaining of fatigue but instead making statements like “Natumbwanguleni vakwe” (Let’s work colleagues). Indeed she was an outstanding official of mark, she set the bar high, probably elusive.
Thank you Mee Shafidah for your service and best wishes in your new career.
* Tonateni Shidhudhu is the former Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Finance and currently Director of Strategic Communications, Stakeholder Engagement and Taxpayer Education at the Namibia Revenue Agency. He writes in a personal capacity.