‘Tower of strength’

TIME OF SORROW … Several officials yesterday gathered at State House to witness the swearing-in ceremony of president Nangolo Mbumba who vowed to serve the remainder of president Hage Geingob’s term. Photos: State House

Yesterday, Namibia’s population of 2,6 million people absorbed the news that president Hage Geingob (82) died at a Windhoek hospital.

Geingob’s deputy, Nangolo Mbumba, made the announcement at around 04h00 yesterday morning.

Tributes began flooding in immediately for a man described as a pan-African ist and nationalist.

According to prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Geingob has lived a life of selfless service to the Namibian people, sacrificing his youth to the country’s liberation struggle.

“His exemplary, selfless service to Namibia has endeared him to the nation, and his departure has cast a dark shadow over our nation,” she said.

National Council chairperson Lukas Sinimbo said Geingob will be remembered as a freedom fighter, a people’s president, and a unifier dedicated to building a ‘Namibian House’ for all.

“He made significant contributions to the liberation of our country and its people,” Sinimbo said.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani described Geingob as a tower of strength throughout his diverse and dedicated service to the nation.

“President Geingob’s passing is a great loss, not only to Namibia, but to the African continent as a whole,” he said.

The news of Geingob’s passing came as a shock to the Independent Patriots for Change.

Party presidentPanduleni Itula described Geingob as an exceptional revolutionary, international civil servant and above all a patriotic statesman who believed in building the ‘Namibian House’.

“We are shattered by his passing as we were all hopeful he would recover to continue serving the nation he so dearly loved,” he said.

Itula urged the public to remain calm and maintain safety and security.

Former ambassador Kaire Mbuende said Geingob was a unifier.

“He has a large legacy that he left behind in terms of nation building and international relations,” he said.

Affirmative Repositioning leader Job Amupanda said Geingob was a nationalist and pan-Africanist.

He said Geingob was clear and committed to the ideals of pan-Africanism.

Amupanda said one would have hoped the president lived longer to see the transition in line with the third-wave generation of leaders he always spoke about. “I think his heart has been in the right place as far as social justice is concerned,” he said.

Landless People’s Movement leader Bernadus Swartbooi yesterday commended Geingob for stabilising Namibia’s economy.

He said he has witnessed a time during which tenders were allocated, and after work was done, there was no money to pay contractors with, but Geingob stepped in “to stop the bleeding”.

“We were spending money we did not have. And that is what was pushing Namibia into these astronomical debts that came with high interest rates, because we needed it to pay our creditors.

“It took president Geingob to come in and say: ‘Stop, we cannot be spending money we do not have’.

“It took Geingob to say let’s not award these tenders left and right any more,” Swartbooi said.

Speaking to NBC television, Swartbooi said it took about nine years for Geingob’s work to stabilise the economy and to see results in tourism, mining and the financial sector.

“Our country would have become a second Zimbabwe if it was not for Geingob who was quietly doing this work,” he said.

“When Geingob became president, we thought we would see new mines, factories opening up, but perhaps that was not his purpose.

“Perhaps his purpose was to stop the bleeding of our coffers, where we were spending money we did not have, and to stabilise the economy so that the next leader who takes over can start from a stable basis,” he said.

Omusati regional governor Erginus Endjala described Geingob as an advocate for transparency.

“He lived by the principles of transparency, and he was open to talk – whether it was bad or good. He was calm, no matter what the situation is,” Endjala said.

He said the late president was a man of his words.

“He was a caring and loving person – especially to those of us who worked close to him. He had a good heart and was always available to console you when you needed him,” he said.

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