College of Human Sciences

Unisa alumnus named ICT Minister in Namibia

The Department of Political Sciences at Unisa is delighted to learn that alumnus Dr Peya Mushelenga has been redeployed as the Minister of Information and Communication Technology in Namibia. This is his third Cabinet position.

Mushelenga has completed three degrees at the university in Political Sciences: a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in International Politics, a Master of Arts in International Politics, and a Doctor of Literature and Philosophy in International Politics. He is currently enrolled for theological studies at Unisa.

MICT management welcomes newly appointed Minister, Hon Peya Mushelenga, and his Deputy Minister, Hon Emma Theofelus.

Image source: The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, Namibia

According to the Windhoek Observer, Mushelenga cites his late mother, a teacher, as his motivation to study. He believes in lifelong learning and that there is no limit to searching for knowledge.

"I study through distance education. It does not take up much time, but it requires self-discipline. For the courses where class attendance was required, I attended night classes. To make enough time for my studies, I cut out leisure time and reduced sleeping hours. When I travel long distances, by road or air, I do not sleep, but take my books to read or work on my assignments."

Dr Peya Mushelenga is a graduate of note who proves that Unisa's commitment to open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) changes lives across the continent and beyond.


Critical analytical skills

Unisa’s Prof Jo-Ansie van Wyk from Political Sciences affirms that the department has had a fair number of high profile alumni that include the Robben Island generation.

"We study, to quote another political scientist, Harold Laswell, 'who gets what, where, when and how'. I would like to add 'who (or which state) gets how much of what, or not, when, or not, why, and how, by whom, and for what purpose'."

Van Wyk says that they equip their students with critical analytical skills to understand, explain, and predict political relations among civil society, among those in power, and between the population and the state. "Moreover, we focus on policy formulation and analysis. Herein lies the value of our offerings: we empower our students to have solid foundation on politics, the state, policy and the social contract. As our department offers three majors (Politics, African Politics and International Politics), we offer students the opportunity to obtain a unique qualification."

She concludes by saying that this is confirmed by the increase in Political Science student numbers, and an increase in the number of high-profile students from here and abroad.


Young politician a breath of fresh air

Mushelenga’s deputy minister, Emma Theofelus, is also a Unisa alumna, and, at 23 years, the youngest in the Namibian Cabinet. She holds an LLB from the University of Namibia and a Diploma in Afrikan Feminist and Gender Studies from the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI).

Read more about her in an article from the New Era Live below.

Born-free prepares for ministerial job

Emma Theofelus was having a lazy Sunday afternoon at home when she received a surprising rare phone call from State House. The call led to a chain of events that would change her life forever as it was indeed to confirm her appointment as one of the eight presidential nominees for the National Assembly as well as to serve her nation in a deputy minister capacity.

“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.

For too long, Namibians have been complaining about the country being run by old politicians. Although it came as a surprise to many, young and old have applauded the appointment of Theofelus as a breath of fresh air. “On Emma Theofelus—Emma is well-known in Namibian civil society as a highly capable and committed young leader. I would have thought she was ideally placed for a senior role at the ministry of youth rather than going to ICT, however,” political commentator Graham Hopwood stated yesterday. Presidential youth advisor Dairsy Mathias said Theofelus’ appointment shows the head of state’s commitment to co-leadership and creating a space for empowerment and development of young people.

Former Nanso president and youth activist Ester Simon said this is a dream come true where one can indeed say it is exciting time to be alive. “It is not just inclusivity but the president is showing and demonstrating practical example and has trust in us as young people,” she said. Theofelus, who was sworn in first as a Member of Parliament as well as deputy minister yesterday, says she does not feel special nor was she too young for her new portfolio. “Let me answer the question of inexperience.

“Everyone has a role. If you are able to learn, understand, gather and acquaint yourself with anything that is available, you can do anything,” the University of Namibia law graduate responded, adding she will be offering the much-needed support to new information minister Peya Mushelenga.

Theofelus said the ICT ministry plays an important role in disseminating information on government programmes and that needs to be improved for Namibians to have an idea of what government is doing. Prior to her Sunday appointment, Theofelus was employed as 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.

In addition to her academic qualification, Theofelus has a diploma in African feminism and gender studies as well as a diploma in Business Management from the University of South Africa (Unisa) and Amity University, respectively. She previously served as secretary general of the Unam student representative council. She also served as Namibian National Students Organisation (Nanso) secretary between 2015 and 2017. She is a former junior mayor of Windhoek (2013-2014) and during the same period started serving as a member of the Children’s Parliament until 2015, starting as deputy speaker and later becoming the speaker.

“I was exposed too early in leadership roles,” she said reflecting on the many opportunities granted to her at a young age. She maintains her biggest leadership role was during her time at Nanso. The young MP is also a member of AfriYan—a youth network comprised of young people from eastern and southern Africa. The network promotes sexual education, reproductive health, rights and issues facing the girl child.

Family life

She was born and bred in Windhoek. She attended primary education at People’s Primary School and matriculated at Khomas High School in the capital city. Her parents are police officers and are immensely proud of her achievement. “My parents are very ecstatic. My mom is very excited. She wants me to remain humble and remain as I am and not get a big head. She can’t wait to see what the future holds for me,” said Theofelus who considers her mother as her mentor. “There is nothing anybody has taught me that my mother has not,” she said.

*By Selma Ikela | 24 March 2020

This article first appeared in the New Era Live and is used by permission. You can read the original here.

* Compiled by Sharon Farrell, Editor: Internal Communication, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2020/03/26