For a brilliant 23-year-old who is fresh from law school, there are quite a good number of prospects. But it is highly unlikely than any of those prospects would have something to do with becoming an actual member of a country’s parliament as a minister appointed by the President.
However, it is not ‘highly unlikely’ if you are Emma Theofilus who was recently appointed Namibia’s Information and Technology Deputy Minister at just 23 years of age.
The law graduate who can be considered Africa’s youngest member of parliament was part of President Hage Geingob’s list of eight non-voting members announced on Sunday and sworn in Monday, March 22.
An avid debater, Emma has previously served in various positions at Nanso High School as Deputy Mayor and Deputy Speaker of the Children’s Parliament of Namibia.
She has also worked with various youth groups, such as Global Shapers Windhoek. She shone in those ranks and her effort appear to have earned her a spot in the nation’s parliament.
“As a former debater and law graduate, you can expect robust debates in parliament. As long as I have the support and guidance, I do not think I would go wrong. I will bank on the experience I have, but I am also willing to take advice and guidance from those that have been there before me,” she is quoted as saying by local media.
As expected, many have questioned the rationale behind her ministerial appointment, citing reservations tied to experience and suitability for the role. But Emma has been quick to quiet those concerns. She maintains that anyone is able to learn, understand and acquaint themselves with the task at hand to be able to do a job.
“I do not think I am special, 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,” she says.
However, she also admits that she will not go into the ministry thinking “I know it all”, but would acquaint herself with the work already done. Emma says she is not oblivious of the fact that there is more than meets the eye in terms of a deputy ministerial post and that the portfolio requires a lot of coordination.
“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,” she says.
“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.
As her first assignment, the incoming deputy minister said she will push for the finalisation of certain critical bills her ministry is busy with. She said some of the bills to be tabled include access to information and the cyber bill, which are pertinent.
“The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has an important role to disseminate information of the government. I feel that needs to be improved so that people know exactly what government plans are underway and the role the government plays,” she said.
She stressed that as a nation, access to information is important, in terms of human rights and thus it would be a task she would take on in her position.
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