We are Namibians first. On Saturday July 14, a giant fell on our collective political and societal landscape. On behalf of the Popular Democratic Movement I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the widow and life partner and a mother - Joan Guriras, their children and loved ones. We also want to extend our sympathies to his political home, I commiserate with you President Dr Hage Geingob and Founding President Sam Nujoma, as I know the political trenches you shared with Speaker Gurirab. Our great Republic today is poorer as it has undisputedly lost an iconic statesman of rare versatility whom espoused ideals and principles with passion, wit and eloquence. I can talk for many hours about his contributions; the painful burdens that he carried on broad shoulders in service to his nation. And yet, the historical record speaks for itself. He was a colossus, who strode proudly into the history books, on the global stage and into our hearts, while carrying the torch of freedom during the darkest and most painful days. Gurirab was both a friend and an adversary to me and he knew superbly to act and operate within the confined parameters of both. I have personally traversed the global arena with him campaigning for him to become IPU President, a target which we conquers through his ability to convince others that he could lead. Speaker Gurirab had a rare talent of versatility from being a top diplomat as Foreign Minister, a leader of government business, Prime Minister and an impartial rule-based Speaker of the house all in one life. I would like to pause a bit and share what his life, the way he lived it and his service has taught me as a politician in a nation that is still grappling with manifold challenges. Just [last week], during our mourning period, after Gurirab’s passing, we heard the news that our economy is not doing well. Let me assure you as the leader of the official opposition, we are willing and able to put Namibia first, irrespective of political affiliations. We want to implore our government, led by President Hage Geingob, to have a jobs or economic summit as a matter of urgency, so that our young people can find hope in the midst of their jobless misery. We know even our graduates are sitting at home, and this would have pained Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab. Let us stem the tide of job losses in our nation. Let us get our people working! Mr President - that is what Speaker Theo-Ben would have wanted. I implore our former presidents to bring this critical issue into the Presidential Council when you next meet with President Geingob. We also know as a diplomat, he would have wanted Namibia’s stature to continue to rise. We have entered a critical time, where Gurirab’s humble lifestyle needs to become a societal government way of life, as it continues to rein in spending, while putting in place measures to grow the economy. Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab did not sacrifice most of his 80 years in service of his nation to see its most poor and vulnerable in pain and financial misery, without food on their tables. Many will look at the opposition in this country and see sluggishness. I see potential. It is that crossroads we must all face, in service to the voiceless. When I look at Namibia today, we can do so much more - more for our single mothers, our breadwinners battling every day to put food on the table. This is what I see in Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab’s life – that unending desire to see a better future for our people. When he stood and spoke in front of the UN and all other international platforms he was speaking on behalf of all of us and our desire to build a new nation, full of promise for those who now inhabit its boundaries, but also for those to come. That task dear friends has not yet been accomplished. We must strive for economic Uhuru! More needs to be done. More shoulders need to be put to the wheel to ensure that the cake is shared equally, that our land is tilled by the formerly landless and produces enough for all. Namibia is our home. We take our stand next to the spirit of Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab who will forever be beside us as we craft this future, though things may look bleak – it looked bleaker still for him during those dark days. Far from home, far from his hometown of Usakos and /Uikrens where he left behind his treasures – his kith and kin – to make the case for our freedom. * McHenry Venaani is leader of the official opposition, PDM. He delivered these remarks at the memorial service of late ex-Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab.
2018-07-25 09:39:24 1 months ago