Geingob championed the cause of the less privileged – Iipumbu

Lucia Iipumbu

We have heavy hearts as we mourn the passing of a remarkable statesman, a visionary leader, and a true servant of the people, president Hage Geingob.

Geingob’s legacy is vast and multifaceted. While he was widely known for his role as the president of our beloved country, we must not overlook his significant contributions in various capacities, including his tenure as previous minister of trade and industry.

It was in this role that Geingob demonstrated his unwavering commitment to advancing economic development, industrialisation and trade promotion, while fostering sustainable investment and international cooperation.

Under his leadership, Namibia has witnessed exceptional growth and prosperity in its trade relations with other nations.

Geingob understood the crucial role trade and industrial cooperation plays in driving economic progress and improving the lives of our people. His efforts to strengthen trade and investment ties, negotiate mutually beneficial agreements, and create opportunities for Namibian businesses will be remembered as cornerstones of his legacy.

I am one of the youthful ministers appointed by him, which demonstrates the trust he had in the younger generation of leadership.

I am able to carry out my work with ease, given his mentorship and coaching.

Geingob played a pivotal role in terms of shaping the trade and industrial policy regime of this country.

It was during his tenure that our first industrial policy for Namibia was developed and approved by the Cabinet and subsequently tabled in parliament.

In the same vein, Geingob facilitated the review of the Namibian investment law, which he proposed to the Cabinet and tabled in parliament – even though it was later challenged in court.

This law is geared to replace the current Foreign Investment Act, and will inter alia address domestic investors’ challenges and ease local economic empowerment.

We are at an advanced stage of finalising this bill, and we are privileged enough to have received Geingob’s final input on this important piece of legislation.

I also wish to share with you that the Equipment Aid Scheme programme as we have it today, which identifies various factors that limit the effective growth and development of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country, became operational during his tenure as a minister.

Many enterprises experienced exponential growth due to this noble intervention, and the programme continues to be operational to date.

Similarly, the Industrial Upgrading and Modernisation Programme was promoted more robustly in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Porgramme during Geingob’s tenure.

This was visionary as the programme was identified as the premier support scheme that each and every member state in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) should implement in the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap for 2015 to 2063.

As part of additional support to small business development, the then Ministry of Trade and Industry through its then implementing agency, the Namibia Development Corporation (NDC) successfully built business premises at various towns across the country.

Today the country boasts more than 45 such industrial and MSME parks, enabling a viable environment under which entrepreneurship can and is flourishing.

The late president initiated the work for the revitaliaation of the NDC and the Offshore Development Corporation in a combined new format of a new industrial development agency to support the implementation of Namibia’s first industrial policy.

Today we have the Namibia Industrial Development Agency as a result of this work.

Furthermore, business registration went through a process re-engineering, developing an in-house built computerised system – the Integrated Company Registration System, linked to all ministerial regional offices to enhance efficient service delivery during Geingob’s tenure.

It was through his zeal to address various challenges experienced through business registration that the creation of the Business and Intellectual Property Authority was approved by the Cabinet – even though its establishment took place when Geingob had already left the ministry.

One of the challenges during the 2011/12 financial year was the review of the decision of the Namibia Competition Commission on the merger of Walmart Incorporated and Massmart Holdings Limited.

Geingob ensured that the arrival of the merger was subject to a number of amended conditions.

It was also in this context that he drove the very first sector reservations regulations, which were novel in the SADC region.

These earlier regulations are the fuel that drives our imminent work on regulations to accompany the draft investment bill.

A further priority was to establish the Namibia Board of Trade to manage imports and exports and handle trade remedies, and we are on planning to table this bill in the course of this year.

Geingob also facilitated the negotiations towards an economic partnership agreement between SADC countries and the European Union.

Beyond his achievements in the realm of trade, Geingob’s leadership was characterised by a profound dedication to justice, equality, and social progress.

He championed the cause of the less privileged, while tirelessly working to build a more inclusive society where every citizen has equal opportunities in the Namibian House.

Geingob’s passing leaves a void that will be felt deeply by all who had the privilege of knowing him, working with him, and being inspired by him.

As we mourn his loss, let us also take comfort in the enduring impact of his legacy. Let us honour his memory by rededicating ourselves to the ideals and principles he held dearly – unity, resilience, inclusion, and a steadfast commitment to the betterment of our nation.

We further pledge to continue building on this legacy, including his bigger dream of green industrialisation.

Let us be comforted by the words of 2 Corinthians 1:3 – 4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

To madame Monica Geingos, Geingob’s children, and his entire bereaved family, in this time of sorrow, let us stand together as a family and as a nation, drawing strength from each other and from his indomitable spirit.

His legacy will continue to inspire us, guide us, and remind us of the profound difference one person can make in the world.

Go well, our leader, sail on, our president, your legacy will surely live on.

May your precious revolutionary soul rest in eternal peace.

*Lucia Iipumbu is Namibia’s minister of industrialisation and trade.

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