Pohamba told journalists he has shifted Nahas Angula, who has been prime minister for nearly eight years, to the defence ministry, replacing him with Hage Geingob, who returns to the post after a 10-year absence.
Eight ministers and eight deputy ministers were also reassigned in the reshuffle, as well as three of the country’s 13 regional governors.
Geingob is currently the trade and industry minister, but had spent years in the political wilderness after being axed by founding president Sam Nujoma.
When prime minister in 2002, he rejected a demotion to local government minister, deciding instead to move abroad and later serve as a back-bencher for the ruling SWAPO Party.
He returned to favour in 2007, when Pohamba took the reins of the party and is now tipped as a possible presidential contender when Pohamba’s term expires in 2015.
“President Pohamba is about in the middle of his second five-year term and he wants to leave a legacy,” said Graham Hopwood, executive director of an independent Namibian think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research.
“Pohamba appointing him into the second highest position in government today indicates a smoothening (of) Geingob’s way to take over,” he told AFP.