Hage G Geingob: Getting to know the Man

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Southern Times Writer

Windhoek - His Excellency Hage Gottfried Geingob, who celebrates his birthday on   August 3, is the third President of the Republic of Namibia since the country’s hard-won independence in 1990.

An astute leader who is respected for his firm beliefs in constitutionalism and promoting civil liberties, and a Pan-Africanist who has been driving the need for a new Africa where guns are silenced by democratic processes, Dr Geingob was born in 1941.

President Geingob was born in Otjiwarongo, a town in northern Namibia, and did his early education in another small town, this one in Otavi, before being enrolled in Augustineum Secondary School.

Augustineum is among Namibia’s oldest schools and among President Geingob’s fellow alumni are Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, Professor Peter Katjavivi, Dr Mose Penaani Tjitendero and Prof Tjama Tjivikua.

The young Geingob earned a scholarship to study at Philadelphia’s Temple University in the United States of America.

Among his first notable academic qualifications were a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University in New York City in 1970, and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the Graduate Faculty of The New School, New York in 1974.

By the time he had earned his Master’s degree, Geingob – who was politically conscious from a very young age and had staked his cause with the nationalists fighting to free Namibia from apartheid and colonial rule – had already been the SWAPO Representative to the United Nations and to the Americas.

And anyone who has ready anything about Namibia’s history and struggle for liberation will know that the representation to the United Nations was a decisive factor in securing international support for the country’s independence. 

Through Geingob’s efforts, the world came to recognise SWAPO as the legitimate representative of the people of Namibia.

In 1972 Geingob was appointed to the UN Secretariat as political affairs officer, a position he held until 1975, when he was appointed director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia.

He and his team were responsible for starting the institute, whose primary function was to train cadres who could take over the civil service of Namibia upon independence. 

Such was the confidence that Geingob had, that in 1975 – a full 15 years before the reality – he was already planning for an independent Namibia.

Geingob was the Director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia until 1989, during which time he also served both in the SWAPO Central Committee and the party’s Politburo.

In 1989, he was elected by the Politburo of SWAPO to spearhead SWAPO's election campaign in Namibia.

As such, he made a triumphant return to his homeland in June 1989 after 27 years of waging the struggle for Namibia all over the world.

As SWAPO's Director of Elections, Geingob - along with other members of his directorate - established SWAPO election centres throughout the country and spearheaded an election campaign that culminated in a landslide victory in the country’s first democratic polls.

In those formative years of Namibia’s democracy, Geingob served as Chairman of the Constituent Assembly which was responsible for formulating the Namibian Constitution. 

That constitution-making process resulted in the writing and adoption of one of the most progressive supreme laws not only in Africa, but indeed across the world.

As Prime Minister in 1990, under the Presidency of His Excellency Sam Nujoma, Geingob introduced modern management approaches to the young Government. Such was his foresight that even then, more than a decade before much of the rest of the world came alive to its importance, Geingob started steering Namibia along the path of sustainable nature conservation and environmental protection.

In 2002, Dr Geingob was appointed Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing. However, he opted to take up the post of Executive Secretary of the Global Coalition for Africa, based in Washington DC in the United States.

The Global Coalition for Africa is an intergovernmental forum that brings together top African policymakers and their partners in the international community to build consensus on Africa’s priority development issues. 

It is based on the premise that Africa can grow only from within, though to do so it needs outside support.

Dr Geingob’s focus was to work with African continental and regional organisations, and Africa’s development partners, towards conflict resolution on the continent, promotion of good governance   and integration of African economies into the global economy.

But the call of home was strong and once again Dr Geingob upped sticks and returned to Namibia in 2004. Just three years later, he was the ruling party Chief Whip of in the National Assembly.

That year of 2007 was to be a momentous one for Dr Geingob.

He was brought back into the SWAPO Politburo in mid-2007, and then in November - just a few weeks before the party Congress - the Politburo named Dr Geingob as its sole candidate for the position of Vice-President of the ruling party.

On November 29, 2007, Dr Geingob was elected unopposed as SWAPO Vice-President, and on April 8, 2008 he was appointed Minister of Trade and Industry.

In 2012, Dr Geingob was re-elected to the position of ruling party Vice-President, and he again served as Prime Minister from December 4, 2012 to March 21, 2015, this time under President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

The crowning moment of his political rise was to come in 2015 when SWAPO picked the veteran of Namibian independence and post-independence development to be succeed His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba as President of the Republic of Namibia in 2015. 

As the SWAPO candidate, Dr Geingob was elected President of Namibia by an overwhelming majority on November 28, 2014, securing 87 percent of the vote. He was sworn in as President for the first time on March 21, 2015 at a ceremony attended by 15 Heads of State and Government from the Southern African Development Community.

In November 2019, President Geingob was re-elected to lead Namibia for another five years.

Since November 2017, Dr Geingob has also been President of SWAPO Party.

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