It was never obvious Geingob would be president – Amunyela

Desmond Amunyela

Businessman Desmond Amunyela, who was very close to the late president Hage Geingob, says after Geingob lost the prime minister position under then head of state Sam Nujoma in 2002, it was never obvious he would become Namibia’s third president.

Reliving his early memories of Geingob, Amunyela says after the former president left for the United States after refusing his demotion to local government minister and came back to Namibia, he did not have too many friends.

Geingob died on 4 February and was buried at Heroes’ Acre.

“He had come from being high up there as prime minister. And for some reason he was relieved of that responsibility. He was also advancing in age and for an unsuspecting someone like me who was just with an uncle which was an honour, I did not see, neither did I understand that it could have been in anyone’s mind for him to want to be the president.

“Initially those dreams weren’t present,” he says.

“There was nothing that could indicate there is a formidable force that could lead to him repackaging himself to the extent that he would become president,” he says.

Amunyela’s relationship with Geingob opened many doors for him, he says, but also courted controversy, which included the businessman paying for Geingob’s trip to the World Cup final in Brazil, contrary to claims that taxpayers’ money was used.

The businessman says Geingob never harboured feelings of anger after his unceremonious exit from the prime minister position.

“He never expressed anger, but obviously as a human being there were signs of regret . . .

“There were those who were advocating he should use his political leverage to mount a resistance of some kind. The job was also starting to cost him his health . . ,” he says.


Amunyela denies reports that Geingob had fallen on hard times in 2008, when he could not settle his water bill, which ran into hundreds of thousands of Namibia dollars.

“I did not avail myself around him to assess how good or bad his financial situation was. It was not odd for me to get money from him or the other way round, or for him to pay for a bill or a plane or a hotel for us to sleep.

“It wouldn’t have been odd, that’s how deep it was,” he says.

“I do not like this thing that people like to make it seem like he was down and out to the extent that he couldn’t pay his electricity bill . . . What I know is that it is not that he was not in a position to pay,” he says.

Amunyela says Geingob was, in retrospect, under the mistaken impression that the state had an obligation to take care of him as a former premier.

“It was cleared. As children of the home we did what we needed to do to get that burden out of the way . . . It was a mere N$300 000. For him and those surrounding him N$300 000 was nothing to write home about,” he says.

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