Mbumba not expected to make radical changes – MPs, analysts

FOR GEINGOB … The National Assembly was a sea of black yesterday afternoon as a sign of respect for the late president Hage Geingob. President Nangolo Mbumba opened parliament as members of both houses gathered in the National Assembly.

Lawmakers and analysts expect a un-eventful reign from newly sworn in head of state Nangolo Mbumba.

He was sworn in as the country’s fourth president on Sunday, following president Hage Geingob’s death.

Mbumba said he had no ambitions to contest for political office in the November elections.

“I consider my role to be of an intermediate nature to optimally conclude the term of office of Hage Geingob, to ensure the security of our people, to serve all communities to the best of my ability, and finally to manage the transition to the next president, whom the Namibian people will elect come November 2024.

“Let me make it crystal clear, I have no intention, desire or ambition to stand for any office,” Mbumba said on Sunday.

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader Bernadus Swartbooi says he has minimal expectations of Mbumba as he embarks on his tenure until March 2025.

“I have very little hope that he will bring the Namibian House together,” he told Desert Radio after the opening of the ninth session of the seventh parliament yesterday.

He said the LPM, however, remains prepared to collaborate with individuals in the best interest of Namibians.

“In that regard we are willing and ready to serve together with him in the best interests of our people,” Swartbooi said.

Political analyst Rui Tyitende says Mbumba’s short term will not allow him to make any radical decisions.

“Considering the time frame in which he will be governing, there is hardly any room for new or radical policy initiatives . . . So, it will be business as usual as he attempts to conclude the unfinished deals left by his predecessor,” he says.

Tyitende says Mbumba is aware of his age and therefore wants to remove all possible doubt that he harbours political ambitions.
“Nangolo Mbumba has read the national mood regarding the old governing the young in the interests of the old.

“He is 82 years of age. President Geingob died at the age of 82, and former vice president Nickey Iyambo, whom Mbumba succeeded, died at the age of 82,” he says.

Meanwhile, political scientist Basilius Kasera says it has been said that once Mbumba tastes power he may not want to let go of it.

“Perhaps it is to quell such rumours and jokes, but also reassure the Namibian public that he is only standing in for the late president’s term.

“It could also be that Mbumba wants to reassure the public that he is committed to the terms and conditions through which he came to office, and wants to foster trust in the political process,” he said yesterday.

Kasera said the power vacuum in Swapo and the empty seat are raising questions.

“[These] Questions which could put the current presidential hopeful into a state of insomnia until the May congress decides. Considering this possibility, there is no assurance that Mbumba would refrain from contesting for the party presidency – a move that could make him the national presidential candidate,” he said.

Kasera said Mbumba could possibly run for the party presidency to pass the baton to vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah after the elections.

“If he changes his mind and runs for party president, he’d only have invalidated his credibility. He’d be the president people will never trust. So, if character is a virtue that ranks high in his category of virtues, he will keep to his word.

“This would create the awkward situation in which the sitting president is not head of the party, when Swapo has always consolidated these powers in one person. Tricky business,” he said.

EXTRA PRESSURE

Mbumba’s current role comes with extra pressure from within the party, from the nation and from the rest of the world.

“On Sunday, we were lauded for demonstrating a level of political maturity rarely seen in Africa. He has to keep up to that image.

“Perhaps this is a way of silencing speculation and uncertainty, regarding the president’s political future,” Kasera said.

According to Popular Democratic Movement parliamentarian Maximalliant Katjimune, Mbumba’s reaffirmation of his stance against running for political office is a relief as it ensures continuity as per the Constitution.

“It was anticipated since Swapo has already endorsed madam Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as their presidential candidate for the 2024 elections.

“We’re relieved that the president will solely serve to complete the late president Geingob’s term,” he said.

Today’s parliamentary session will be dedicated to parliamentarians’ tributes to Geingob.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!