At home and abroad, the President is at work for a better Namibia
Dr Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari
The festive season is behind us. January, the first month of the year has faded - a year signed by President Hage G. Geingob as that of accountability. Many have returned from their holidays. But, it is worth emphasising to Namibians that while the Head of State wished Namibians happy holidays, it was no ordinary festive season.
The Presidential agenda and calendar was charged, both on the domestic and external fronts. Between leading the fight against crime during the festive season, attending a family funeral and preparing the Christmas and New Year statements, the President received, among many, Jean-Claude Gackosso, Foreign Minister and Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Congo; hosted in Swakopmund the African Union High Representative on Infrastructure and former Prime Minister of Kenya Raila Odinga.
As Chairperson of Sadc, the President invested in the thick of the festive season a lot of energy and presidential diplomacies, speaking telephonically to heads of state and government, meeting various stakeholders with the objective of harmonising positions, building consensus, ensuring that the 30 December 2018 elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo proceed peacefully, avoiding domestic and regional instability.
In that vein, President Geingob led on 26 December regional leaders to Congo Brazzaville for the joint Sadc-International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to discuss the political situation in the DRC ahead of the landmark December elections. Moreover, the President, after extensive consultations with African heads of state called a meeting of the Sadc Double Troika in Addis Ababa on 17 January 2019 to review the post-electoral political situation in the DRC.
It is not in the business of the President to rest, and these interventions demand extensive preparations and meetings lasting late into the dead of the night. That the people of DRC witnessed since independence in 1960 the first peaceful transfer of power on 24 January 2019, from President Joseph Kabila to President Félix Tshisekedi is without question a signature foreign policy success of the Geingob presidency and Namibia’s chairmanship of Sadc. Namibians ought to be proud of this achievement and their President’s bold contributions to a better DRC and New Africa.
No country is an Island, the old adage goes, and the President puts emphasis on international solidarity, having played an important role in our march to independence. Importantly, our trek to prosperity will follow a pattern of mobilising domestic and international resources.
At times, it would also demand that we invest our resources. Thankfully, the Presidency has been wholly transparent, sharing information with the media about the depth and quality of presidential participation in events abroad. These acts of transparency notwithstanding, there are a visible few with pens and editorials, agitating for a Namibia that is recluse and an autarky. It is not going to happen!
The President understands that Namibia, as a small state cannot reach levels of prosperity without intensive high-level interventions and visits abroad. After all, even presidents of big economies invest a lot of time abroad consolidating relations with other countries and the multilateral system. The benefits of external engagement far outweigh a reclusive foreign policy.
Namibians cannot afford to view the actions of President Geingob abroad outside the domestic agenda of development and prosperity. They won’t. Opinion journalism agitating Namibia to become an island or a hermit country is also aware that inclusive growth and shared prosperity is indivisible from the presence of the President in the external environment. It also understands that Namibia as a respected African country cannot shy away from urgent African and international obligations.
In fact, the laziest comparative desktop research would reveal that President Geingob’s necessary travel outside Namibia is average, if not in the bottom-tier for a head of state. The latter point suggests that we should put this redundant conversation behind us. First, it distracts attention from the reason why Namibians elect a president for a five-year term, of which President Geingob is entering the final year. Second, it ignores the reason why foreign policy and its high politics are an exclusive domain for an elected head of state and government. Namibians, including the media and opinion journalists, should trust the judgement of the President in the high politics of foreign policy. After all, at home, and abroad, President Geingob, out of self-respect, does not spare any effort in putting in the long hours for a better Namibia.
It is 2019, the Year of Accountability, and the President is more determined to get Namibia in better shape. Better governance leads to better economic performance. The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index recently confirmed this point. The commitment of the Namibian government to reducing inequality is lauded by Oxfam International. Our governance is in coming into shape, with important legislation on governance of state-owned enterprises ready to be rolled out.
As a valuable stakeholder, President Geingob will engage the media with transparency and accountability, in full knowledge that sharing presidential activities is part of the compact he signed with Namibians.
In the coming weeks, the President will undertake a series of consultations and will make a series of announcements, including interventions in favour of better governance and economic performance, including service delivery to all Namibians.
Yes, this is an election year. But the President will continue to serve Namibians with the same intensity as the day he entered the presidency on 21 March 2015. The tone will be set with the opening of Cabinet next week 5 February 2019, where the President, following the announcement of the Year of Accountability on New Year’s Eve, will set the second act of what the Year of Accountability will look like.
The challenges facing Namibians, as the President emphasises demand dedication and higher commitment to implementation of governance policies and programmes. It is a high expectation the President places on the executive he leads. Most importantly, the President will not tire to say so, and will continue to emphasise peace, and the unity of the Namibian people as a condition sine qua non for a prosperous Namibia.
* Dr Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari is the Presidential Spokesperson.
New Era Reporter
2019-02-05 09:18:47 5 months ago