Pohamba praises Geingob for ‘best’ administration of public service

Hifikepunye Pohamba

On Sunday 4 February the Namibian nation woke up to the horrifying and painful news of the passing away of our president, Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob.

I, for one, was shocked and deeply touched by this devastating news.

Our president as a young man was influenced by the political situation in the country at the time, and took a conscious decision to join his fellow Namibians abroad, who were fighting to liberate his motherland.

We are here today to pay our final respects to a man who served his nation with passion during the dark days of our struggle for freedom and independence.

A man who would serve as the first prime minister in an independent Namibia, and who went on to become the third president of our republic.

I knew the late comrade Geingob for more than 60 years. We met for the first time at a bus stop at a railway station at Tsumeb in December 1962.

On that day, comrade Eliander Mwatale and I were being deported to our native homeland (Ovamboland) upon our release from imprisonment that lasted for several months. We were imprisoned for being out of the country without permission. This was after we were arrested upon our return from Tanganyika, now Tanzania in 1961.

Dear mourners, comrade Geingob left the country and joined the Swapo office in the then Bechuanaland, now the Republic of Botswana, where he temporarily served as an assistant representative from 1963 to 1964, after which he left to study in the United States of America.

In 1964, Swapo party president comrade Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma appointed comrade Hage Geingob to represent Swapo while studying in the United States, and served as Swapo party representative at the United Nations and to the Americas.

During his tenure as Swapo representative at the United Nations, comrade Geingob travelled extensively within the United States, addressing gatherings, accompanied by comrades such as Hidipo Hamutenya, Theo-Ben Gurirab and others.

These efforts contributed massively to the recognition of the Swapo party as the sole and authentic representative of the people of Namibia by the United Nations General Assembly, leading to, after several years, the independence of Namibia in 1990.

In 1975 comrade Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, the president of the Swapo party, recommended the appointment of comrade Geingob as director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia.

Comrade Geingob and his team were responsible for establishing the institution in Lusaka, Zambia.

Their primary function was to train cadres who would take over the civil service in independent Namibia. Comrade Geingob served as director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia until 1989, when he was assigned to lead the Swapo party leadership back home, including me.

Dear mourners, after 27 years of absence from his motherland, comrade Geingob and many of us finally returned home on 18 June 1989. In the same year, comrade Hage Geingob was elected by the politburo of the Swapo party as director of elections to spearhead Swapo’s election campaign in the country.

Along with his team, they set up election centres all over the country and led the electoral campaign that saw the Swapo party win the majority in 1990.

On 21 November 1989, comrade Hage Geingob was elected chairman of the Constituent Assembly, which was responsible for formulating and drafting the Namibian Constitution. It was a process of building mutual trust between the former warring parties. The Namibian Constitution was unanimously adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 9 February 1990.

On 21 March 1990, comrade Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma as new president of the Republic of Namibia appointed comrade Geingob as first prime minister. In November 2007, the politburo nominated comrade Geingob as candidate for the position of vice president of Swapo.

At the congress, comrade Geingob was elected vice president unopposed on 29 November 2007, after which as second president of the Republic of Namibia, I appointed him as minister of trade and industry on 8 April 2008.

At the 2012 Swapo party congress, comrade Hage Geingob was re-elected as vice president on 2 December 2012. After the congress, I appointed comrade Geingob prime minister on 4 December 2012, making him the first prime minister to serve under two presidents.

Comrade Hage Geingob was the best administrator in public and government business of Namibia.

His dedication earned him respect and admiration, not only among the Swapo party leadership, but also among the opposition parties, rank and file. Comrade Geingob was subsequently elected president of Namibia by an overwhelming majority on 28 November 2014.

On 21 March 2015, I handed over the symbols of power to comrade Hage Geingob as he was sworn in as Namibia’s third president. At that time, I assured the Namibian nation that I am leaving Namibia in good hands. I still believe that in Geingob, Namibia was in good hands, judging by what his administration has accomplished during a reign characterised by many challenges, such the economic downturn that affected many economies in the world, drought and floods, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 18 April 2015, Swapo’s central committee convened a meeting at Ongwediva, where, among other things, I tendered my resignation as Swapo party president to allow the vice president to act until the next congress, thereby allowing him to have full authority to manage both the affairs of the state and of the Swapo party.

Following these developments, the central committee organised a public meeting on 19 April 2015 at Oshakati Soccer Stadium, during which I officially handed over the Swapo party presidential instruments of power to the Swapo party acting president, comrade Geingob.

Dear mourners, the passing away of comrade Hage Geingob must remind us of the Peter Nanyembas, the Tobias Hainyekos, and many more freedom fighters who died fighting at the battle front.

It must remind us that the peace and freedom we enjoy in Namibia today was achieved because of many patriotic Namibians who sacrificed their lives and shed their precious blood so that we could win and build a better future for our country and people.

President Geingob departed this earthly life at a time when he was still serving his country and people as head of state and government.
As a freedom fighter, chairperson of the Constituent Assembly, minister, prime minister, president and political mentor to many, comrade Geingob did indeed run a good race.

His legacy should inspire us to continue to build from where he has ended, so that Namibia could continue on a positive trajectory in the fight against the challenges of socio-economic development, unemployment, poverty eradication and the effective provision of public services.

We cannot talk about the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia without mentioning the name Hage Gottfried Geingob because of the leading role he played at the birth of our Republic when we were drafting the Constitution.

His efforts should therefore inspire us to rededicate ourselves to the values and ideals founded in our Constitution, for the prosperity of our country and people.

Comrade Geingob has left us too soon. There is a lot more he could have done for our country and our people should his physical health be allowed. That notwithstanding, we recognise and value the countless contributions he has made toward the attainment of our freedom and independence and to the social and economic development of our country.

Our nation will remember him for his patriotic deeds and his contributions to the building of a new democracy after decades of subjugation and colonial brutality.

Dear mourners, although comrade Geingob is no longer with us physically, his legacy will forever be remembered by many Namibians whose lives were positively impacted by his deeds and wise leadership.

Let us honour the legacy of comrade Hage G Geingob by reinforcing the policy of national reconciliation, strengthening our democratic institutions, maintaining peace and stability, and implementing policies that can bring about tangible improvements in the lives of all our people.

Lastly, I would like to acknowledge and show my sincere appreciation and gratitude to you all, my fellow Namibian citizens, for your planning and participation in the heartfelt memorial services for our late president, Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob, in all our regions, cities, towns and villages.
I do this from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, my compatriots.

To our former first lady, madame Monica Geingos, the children, the entire immediate and extended family, I would like to say we share your sorrow, your pain and your loss. Our hearts and our prayers are with you during this difficult dark time. We wish you solace, strength and consolation during this moment.

May the Almighty God give you strength to carry on.

May the soul of our dear departed president Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob rest in eternal peace.

*Hifikepunye Pohamba is Geingob’s predecessor and Namibia’s second president.

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