President Hage Geingob would have been proud to see the smooth and speedy transfer of power to his successor, Nangolo Mbumba, within 24 hours of his death.
Geingob was big on promoting democracy and good governance underpinned by well-functioning “processes, systems and institutions” that are not run at the whim of individuals.
In his acceptance speech on Sunday, president Mbumba said his predecessors have set a solid foundation for him.
Notably, Mbumba emphasised that he has no long-term ambition for the Presidency, but only to complete the remaining one year of Geingob’s administration.
The new president can do worse than focusing on a few priority areas that strengthen Geingob’s good governance formula: (a + t = t) accountability plus transparency equals trust.
We can think of a few areas to cement the foundations of Namibia’s democracy and good governance of which, as Mbumba correctly pointed out, Geingob was the “chief architect”.
No single Namibian has shaped the country’s democracy and governance infrastructure more than Geingob.
Once the Swapo caucus of the Constituent Assembly gave Theo-Ben Gurirab the responsibility of assuring apartheid South Africa and its surrogate opposition parties that the liberation movement would adapt the 1982 Constitutional Principles, Geingob led just about every crucial part of the system to ensure democracy works.
After spearheading the drafting of the Constitution, his role as prime minister was to put into practice post-apartheid constitutional values; being president was the pinnacle of his authority to shape Namibia.
Mbumba can cement his friend and comrade’s legacy by pushing for the effective implementation of laws and institutions that put into action Geingob’s rhetoric about Namibia’s democratic values and the ‘good governance = transparency + accountability’ mantra.
One needs to look no further than making sure the ministry of information sets up institutions for the functioning of the access to information law.
Mbumba should not tolerate unreasonable delays in drawing up regulations and appointing an information commissioner “to promote, monitor and protect the right of access to information”.
A major blot on Geingob’s professed belief in accountability, good governance and transparency was that he moved at a snail’s pace or presided over the watering down of institutions that strengthened democracy and clean government, especially anti-corruption measures.
Mbumba has a golden year to reinforce the late president’s democratic credentials and immortalise Geingob’s good governance legacy.
In addition to access to information and whistleblower protection, Mbumba should move with resolve to implement the following instruments:
Namibia should join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and similar measures to avoid the curses that come with oil, gas, other minerals and now green hydrogen.
Institute transparent measures such as central registers for beneficial ownership to combat corruption. It is crucial that all beneficiaries of state-related deals are known to discourage ‘beneficial owners’ from operating behind proxies.
Put into practice transparent measures for effective lifestyle audits.
Institute a declaration of assets for all public officials and elected politicians in a system that is open.
Clean up and make the state procurement system effective.
President Mbumba, you know better than many that a year can go by fast, considering how bureaucratic systems work.
All you need to buttress president Geingob’s pro-democracy and good governance legacy are nerves of steel.
May Oom Hage’s spirit help you accomplish the mission.
This editorial has been updated to correct president Hage Geingob’s good governance formula, which was incorrectly written as: (gg = t+a) good governance equals transparency plus accountability.
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