…teach them in the way they should go…
Most people say being a foreigner in Namibia is one of the toughest things to hold up, but when is being a foreigner in any country ever easy, really? You actually don’t know how horrible your country’s system is until you’re outside looking in.
Then again, they say being a white African is one of the most challenging realities to live with. I mean, Idi Amin made them disappear and Robert Mugabe makes them run to God knows where. In Namibia, however, besides the usual rants of the occasionally upset non-whites screaming about national assets robbed of them or salary discrepancies, etc., living in Namibia as either a visitor, white or foreign, isn’t so bad. Friendly people, really.
But such aren’t aspects of everyday life that keep the Minister of Finance, formerly of Trade, Honorable Carl Hermann Gustav Schlettwein – usually just known as Calle Schlettwein – awake. Although the first and second Finance ministers, the late Hon. Otto Herrigel and his successor, Hon. Gerd Hanekom were white, Mr. Schlettwein has been the only white cabinet minister since his appointment as the Trade minister and remained unabated until of course Leon Jooste joined the new government early this year as the Public Enterprises minister.
“I’m simply Namibian,” he says, adding “my skin color has never earned or robbed me of any opportunity in this country.”
Born on 13th of June, 1954 and serving the Namibian government in various capacities in latter years, this phenomenal dad has an impeccable resume as impressive as the 4th of July (I don’t know why people say ‘impressive as the 4th of July’, but oh well…).
From public appointments, education, board memberships, involvement in international institutions and related experiences, to conferred awards, this is the kind of father who makes the good ones look really, really good.
There’s a lot to learn from this father of four girls – he is a true definition of ‘Last Man Standing’ in its literal sense!
Interestingly, his entire family is in the education sector including his wife. “My four daughters are Sylvia, Carola, Sabine and Claudia. My eldest daughter, Sylvia, is a lecturer at IUM; my second, Carola, is a lecturer at Unam and my third, Sabine, teaches at Windhoek’s public Delta Primary School. My youngest, Claudia, is at the University of Western Cape.”
This dotting father speaks so highly of his girls whom he refers to as “very bright, competitive ladies”. You would wonder how his in-laws or even his kids’ friends behave around him, you know.
“When I’m not working, all I am is ‘dad’, and I love it!”
Did he just say when he’s ‘not working’? Now check his past work experiences and tell me when he doesn’t work. Like really!
2015 – present: Minister of Finance.
2010 – present: Member of the Namibian Parliament.
2012 – 2015: Minister of Trade and Industry
2010 – 2012: Deputy Minister of Finance.
2003 – 2010: Permanent Secretary: Ministry of Finance.
1996 – 2003: Permanent Secretary: Ministry of Labour.
1993 – 1996: Permanent Secretary: Ministry of Youth and Sport.
1993 – Permanent Secretary: Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
1991 -1992: Permanent Secretary: Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.
1990 -1991 Appointed as the 1st Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development in the Independent Republic of Namibia.
1985 -1989: Head of the Research Section in the Department of Water Affairs, Namibia.
1981- 1985: Employed by the Department of Water Affairs, Namibia as Researcher for biological weed control.
1974 – 1980: Tertiary Education:
Bachelor of Science: Zoology and Botany, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
Master of Science: Entomology (Insect Ecology), University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
1971 -1972: Secondary Education until Grade 12: Deutsche Höhere Privatschȕle, Windhoek, Namibia.
1960 -1970: Primary Education until Grade 10: Karibib Private School
Board Membership and Other Institutions
2010 – present: Member of the MCA-N (Millennium Challenge Account, Namibia) Board
2006 – 2010: Member – Namibian Black Empowerment Committee.
2005 – 2010: Member – Fisheries Advisory Council.
2005 – 2010: Member – Namibia Regional Trust Fund.
2004 – 2010: Council Member – University of Namibia.
2004 – 2010: Senate Member – University of Namibia.
2004 – 2010: Member – National Council for Higher Education.
2004 – 2006: Chairman – Lüderitz Waterfront Development Company.
2004 – 2005: Chairman – Namibia Sports Commission.
2003 – 2010: Chairman – Namibian Tender Board.
2003 – 2010: Member – Diamond Board of Namibia.
2003 – 2010: Member – Namibia Development Corporation Board of Directors.
2003 – 2010: Member – Board of Directors of Bank of Namibia.
2004 – 2005: Co-chaired SACU Commission Meetings.
2003 – 2011: Alternate Governor- African Development Bank.
2003 – 2010: Alternate Governor – World Bank.
2003 – 2010: Member of the Common Monetary Area (CMA) Commission.
2003 – 2010: Members of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
2001: Chairperson of the Government Group of the High Level Tripartite Working Group on
Maritime Labour Standards.
2000: Chairperson of the ILC Sectoral Meeting on Sustainable
Agricultural Development in a Globalized World, Geneva, Switzerland.
1998 – 2002: Namibian Government Delegate at the ILC’s.
1996 – 2001: Namibian Government Representative in the ILO-Governing Body.
1999 – 2000: Chaired the Senior Official Meeting of the OAU Labour and Social Affairs Commission.
2001: Co-chaired the Senior Officials Meeting of the SADC Sector for Labour and Employment.
1997 – 2000: Namibian Delegate at the Senior Official’s OAU Labour and Social Affairs Commission Sessions.
1997 – 2001: Namibian Delegate at the Senior Official’s SADC Labour and Employment Sector Meetings.
2003 – 2008: Member of the SACU negotiation team for the SACU/USA Free Trade Agreement.
2003 – 2010: Member of the SACU negotiation team for the SACU/European Free Trade Agreement.
2003 – 2009: Member of the SACU negotiation team for the SACU/Mercusor Free Trade Agreement.
2005 – 2010: Member of the SADC Senior Official Task Force for Regional Economic Integration
And yet, Mr. Schlettwein still finds time to have breakfast with his wife, Every. Single. Day! Can you believe that!
“I don’t think spending time with the family is something that comes easy for any career family man, but let me tell you something; the best thing a father can do for his children is love and treat their mother really well. I’m aware of how demanding my job is [and always been], but I’ve made it my mission to find time to spend with my family every chance I get.”
Forget everything you think you know or read about this public figure and meet him in a different light here; no cameras, no microphones and no group of journalists asking questions about policies at a media conference.
“Beyond this office, I’m just a family man who gets lonely very quickly,” he chuckles before adding, “I like to have company around me all the time.”
When he’s not racking his brains about national issues, “I take landscape and wildlife photographs. I think I would have been a professional photographer, or something, had I not pursued my political career.”
On Heroes’ Day 2014, Mr. Schlettwein was conferred the Excellent Order of the Eagle, Second Class.
“It was such an honour to be awarded in such class. I’m not sure why or how the selection for this award is done, but I understand it is for those who have contributed extraordinarily to the development of the country in one way or another.”
Well, somebody had to commend the man who’s name had become infamously synonymous to ‘underspending is a sin’. But what would be the justification for that statement with President Hage’s over-expenditure cut plan?
“Listen, if government makes money available, which it gets from the tax-payers, to deliver services it is obligated to render, it would be under-performance to not spend that money for the right budgets.
“For instance; there are two types of public budgets – operational and developmental – which have never really been exceeded. With 33 votes, each budget gets a piece of the cake, although each vote spending differs. Whichever way you look it at, however, public funds should be spent on quality service provision. Period.”
Even with a very impressive political career, Mr. Schlettwein was involved in natural sciences before independence. It was after this that he became the first permanent secretary in the then Ministry of Water, having been appointed by the Founding Father.
Humble man, this is; one of the very few government officials who would actually call you back if they missed your phone call, or even better, text you back or leave a comment on your Facebook page.
“Inasmuch as we’re public figures, we’re just ordinary people serving their government and I don’t see why some of us feel so special that they don’t return or answer their calls from the people they serve. Never made sense to me.”
Strip this and all that’s left is Schlettwein the father. So what kind is he?
“When all the commercialization of Fathers’ Day and even 4th of July dies down, there are lessons every sound minded father draws from fatherhood. Mine are honesty, trustworthiness, humility – don’t be a know-it-all when it comes to fatherhood over your own children and even those you lead, for your own good. Understand others intentions in all that they do for the greater good and do not violate your principles – this goes a long way. Always give people benefit of the doubt as you would your own children; award and punish if and when necessary.
“However, I’m not the kind of father who would physically harm my children in the name of disciplining them. And I certainly wouldn’t go beyond acceptable boundaries to instill discipline in others too. When my kids were little, I’d always just tap them on the wrist or something or spank a little, but I hated it when they cried. I hate to inflict pain on anyone, much less my own girls. So I’d reason with them, you know, have mini talks in which I’d let them understand why I’m upset and why they shouldn’t make that mistake again, etc.”
With four daughters, three married and one still in school, what would this father do if she (the one still in school) came home to announce that she’s either pregnant, gay or if any of them lodged a campaign against the government their father serves?
“First of all, thank God all my kids are adults now and I’d like to believe that I
taught them the right values growing up. As the good book says, “Teach them in the way that they should go…”. So if such happened (a campaign against the government I serve), God forbid, I’d respect their opinions, albeit have a discussion with them to try and understand where they’re coming from, and then explain to them that what our government is doing is being done right.
“As far as being pregnant out of wedlock or being gay goes, what can a parent do but love their child unconditionally? She’d still be the daughter I’ve loved and supported from the first time I held her in my arms. As parents, we like to think that we’re bring up our children the right way. However, along the way, many things could go wrong. But when you know in your heart that you’ve instilled the basic, healthy set of values in your child, you should rest easy and leave that child in God’s hands. He created her. You’ve done your part. Now let go and let God.”
Brought up in a large family of six siblings with both parents, Mr. Schlettwen feels for the kids who grow up single-parent homes.
“Such families miss a lot, I think. I work for the day government will ensure that children from such homes receive equal chances including financial help, daycare facilities, absorbing them in a de facto system, etc., because such children become very lonely even when amongst lots of people.”
Can you believe what kind of president a father like this would make, as regards solving national problems such as youth unemployment, poverty alleviation and policy implementation?
“This is our government. Whatever has been achieved has been a result of teamwork and I’m truly satisfied with President Hage’s place in it, because I share his views. If we move as a team, we’re able to zoom in on weaknesses that need strengthening and it is only then that we’re able to work on things like inclusiveness. Nobody should ever feel left out from this administration.”
And when all’s said and done, “I’m just a family man who never carries work home unless I really have to, so I don’t have an office at home. I cherish Christmas holidays, because I get to spend it with my family and try out my cooking skills. Oh, I’m such a messy cook!”