Interview posted on 7 April 2020
Welcome to Namambe Mr Titus Ipumbu and thanks for your time and insight in advance…
1. Are you reading any book now?
I ‘m revising Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House authored by Michael Wolff.
2. Name an instant skill which you would like to learn?
3. And by the way do you have an African name and if so what does it mean?
Ashipala. My father named me after Ashipala sha Nakwedhi, who was the second King of the Kwambi’s Tribe.
4. How many language do you speak?
Oshiwambo language, English, Afrikaans. A couple years, ago, I have registered Portuguese, for beginners, at NUST. Now, I can read, write it.
5. Now tell us more about yourself?
I was born at the village known at Onaanda in Elim Constituency in Omusati Region. I have attended primary school there until I completed Standard 5 (an equivalent to the current Grade 7). Thereafter, I went to Oshakati Secondary School (1982 – 1986). I matriculated in 1986 with matrix exemption.
I wanted to study B. Econ in South Africa. However, although I passed with matric exemption, it was not easy at all to get a bursary to study outside Namibia. There were, at least three institutions which offered bursaries, namely: Ovambo Administration, Council of Churches in Namibia(CCN) and Lutheran World Federation(LWF). In order for you to get a bursary from one of these institutions, somebody has to connect you to the officials there. Unfortunately, in my case, just like many previously disadvantageous people, there was nobody who could pull the strings.
During December 1986, I applied for a teaching post at the village. Verily speaking, teaching was not my planned career. The school Principal at Uutsima admitted me and told me to go and start as a teacher. To avoid going to the village, I started to look for a job at Oshakati Post Office, Stamdard Bank and Barclays Bank at Ondangwa. I recall very well one day when my classmate Hafeni Shiponeni “Sunny Boy” and I went to look for a job at the Post Office. We waited for the Post Master to return back from lunch. Upon his arrival, he just looked at our papers and told us to leave his office and apply to the University.
Two days before I went to start, as a teacher, at Uutsima Combined School, I decided to make a last ditch effort to look for a job. I did this, because, for intent and purposes, I was no comfortable to work at the village. I boarded a combie ( a mode of transport in the Ovamboland ) from where the current Spa Store in Oshakati is situated and was dropped at Oshakati Hospital/ Ongwediva junction. This is where Jetu Engine Service is situation. Before independence Yetu Shopping Mall was not there.
After I disembarked from the Combi, my eyes were on a woman who was selling “kapana” meat and fat cakes. To be honest, I was hungry. It is at that spot where I found my former secondary school mate Norbert Iyambo aka Kayoma also eating kapana. We greeted each others. He told me that he was going to the School of Nursing because, according to him, the College needs student nurses. I, however, had my own version. I told him that I was going to the Hospital Laboratory to look for the job. I must say that the vacancy at the Laboratory came to my knowledge from a fellow job seeker while we were standing under the tree waiting for the Branch Manager at Standard Bank at Ondangwa.
Back to my story, Norbert and I, then proceeded, first, to the College of Nursing. At the College, we met Mr. Amkongo who later became our lecturer for Anatomy and Physiology. The next day we have enrolled at the School of Nursing for four (4) years. Subsequent thereto, I have graduated with the University Diploma: Nursing Science, Midwifery, Community Health Nursing and Psychiatry.(1987-1990)
During January 1991, I was deployed to Lüderitz Hospital where I worked, as a Registered Nurse, for 2 years and 5 months.
During May 1993, I then decided to return to my home town – Oshakati. The remaining 1993, I was working in the Medical ward 8 (with the late Dr. Elizabeth Shangula) R.I.P. We had cordial working relationship.
During January 1994, I resigned and enrolled at the Faculty of Law at UNAM, for five years, where I did B. Juris, LL.B and, thereafter, graduated during April 1999. Immediately, after I completed the LL.B, then Inspector-General of the Namibian Police, Lft-Gen. Lukas Hangula, appointed me as one of the Legal Advisors with a rank of Inspector. I worked there for two years while I was doing my Articleship with the Office of the Government Attorney.
During September 2000, I was appointed as a Deputy-Coordinator of the SADC Legal Sector in the Ministry of Justice where I worked until September 2006. It was during this time, I went back to the University to do the Master’ Degree (LL.M) specializing in International Economic Law (2002/2003).
In the meantime, I have completed the coursework for MBA via ESAMI. I am only left with the Thesis which I have to submit in the middle of the year.
I have also finished my PhD proposal on a topical subject matter which I am reluctant to disclose now.
6. What are you currently doing now for a living?
I am a Partner at Titus Ipumbu Legal Practitioner.
7. At present many learners are struggling with English in the Namibia, from your experience as learner/student/employee what do you think should be done to address this problem? Perhaps during your time people were taught differently.
Learners must read different literature, e.g newspapers, magazines, journals in order to broaden their horizons. They must speak the English language often especially at school or when they are together with their peers. There is saying that ” Practice makes things perfect.” We need to encourage school debates both at the combined, secondary and university levels. In 1997, when I was doing 4th year, Ms. Maddy Samson and I were chosen to represent the Faculty of Law of the University of Namibia at the Moot Court. The event was in Kampala in Uganda. About 20 Universities in Africa participated at the Moot Court Competition. In the end, the host -University of Makerere took the first position, the University of Pretoria won the second position while the University of Namibia took a third position.
8. What would you say are 2 of your biggest successes, one personal and one professional?
I never existed in isolation. In many, if not all, instances, I have worked as a team comprising two or more people. On the strength of that, I am, therefore, not inclined to point out what I may call personal success. I, however, will leave this question for posterity to pass a judgment on me.
With regard to the professional success, I am also restrained by the Rules of the Regulator of the Legal profession to make public pronouncements on what I have been doing or still do, as successes or failure. If I attempt to do so, that amounts to touting.
Perhaps I can only tell you our collective professional achievements while I was an employee of the Ministry of Justice (2000 to 2006). We were only three in the whole Department called the SADC Sector Coordinating Unit. It was Notemba Tjipueja, myself and our secretary Clemency. The two of us succeeded to develop and discuss at the SADC level the following Protocols:
1. Protocol on Tribunal and Rules of Procedure thereof. The former Deputy-Attorney General Andrew Chigovero initiate the draft and gave it to us to discuss it among SADC Senior Legal Officials, Council of Ministers and Summit. I played an important role in the negotiation relating to the development of the SADC Tribunal, the swearing of the first Judges of Tribunal and the handing of the Tribunal by the Government of Namibia to SADC. Later on, some farmers took one Government of a SADC Member State to the Tribunal. The politicians did not like it. Therefore, the Tribunal which is a Regional Judicial organ, stricto senu, was suspended indefinitely. This was, indeed, a very unfortunate development.
2. SADC Protocol against Corruption. The late Tanzanian Criminal Law Professor Medard Rweramila, who was at that time a special advisor to Minister Mac Maharajah initiated this Protocol. As senior legal officials, we had our first meeting for two days at Boipuso Hall in Gaborone. The draft Protocol was passed to the Ministers of Justice/ Attorney-General. The Council of Ministers and Summit(Head of States and Government) adopted it at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre, Malawi (the warm heart of Africa) in 2002. It wss this Protocol which facilitated the creation of Anti-Corruption bodies in SADC, except Botswana, Malawi and Zambia which had established the anti-corruption bodies before the development of this important Protocol.
There were plethora of SADC and AU projects which the Ministry of Justice assigned them to me and I had executed them with precision. In this regard, my friend and Comrade Kawana, Lidwine Shapwa, Dr. Tjiriange and Utoni Nujoma can corroborate my narrative here.
9. We are all human, and humans are emotional people, that said, what sort of things irritate you the most, which get you down, and what do you do if someone gets on your nerves?
I always avoid provocatures
10. Name a person you admire the most and Why?
This is a difficult question. You admire a person today and tomorrow you hear that such role model is picked up by the ACC or the Scorpions.
To avoid this, some few people whom I have admired were, inter alia: my late father and my late mother. It was my father who literally took me to the secondary school and requested, in my presence, the School principal to enrol me there.
I admired Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Martin Thembisile aka Chris Hani. Hani was the Secretary-General of the Communist Party, a member of the ANC and Chief of Staff of the Mkhoto we Sizwe (MK) of the African National Congress.
Finally, I admired Henry Alfred Kissinger, the former Secretary of State of the United States. Kissinger was a professor, politician and top diplomat at the critical time when the world was heavily polarized. My reference to Professor Henry Kissinger explains why I want to develop skills in international diplomacy
11. What is that you have learned from Corona Virus/Covid 19 induced locked down? What did you miss doing during the locked down period? Do you think the world was caught by surprise by this virus?
I missed my office. I missed my traditional homestead and my people at Onaanda in Omusati Region. No doubt, the world is caught by surprise.
Nobody anticipated the rate at which the pandemic spread. Nobody expected the morbidity and the mortality rate caused by the disease. COVID-19 exposed the health care system of many countries in the world. SARC in 2002/2003, Ebola and Zika epidemics did not pose health threats of this monumental proportion to humanity. The post-COVID-19 era calls the World Health Organization (WHO) to revise the International Regulations on Communicable Diseases. The international community must go back to the drawing board and make an introspection to issues pertain to diseases prevention and control.
12. If you are given power to change something in the world what would it be?
• Let me confine myself to the power at the national level.
• I will develop plans on an effective mass food production.
• I will develop plan on water and energy resources management.
• I will develop plans to reforest 30% of our Namib Desert.
• Encourage medical research on human, bovine drugs and vaccines.
• Develop plans to deal with the Red line decisively.
• Last but not least, to deal with the land issues in an effective and pragmatic fashion that ensure a speedy and fair land redistribution.