• June 3rd, 2020

President Geingob reinforces as Chair of SADC the power of the Namibian Example

A year ago, President Hage G. Geingob assumed the position of Chair of SADC at a time of uncertainties in a pivotal state, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the fourth largest Island state in the world, the Republic of Madagascar. The Union of the Comoros, which had just joined SADC, was looking up to the Namibian example for guidance on how to create the conditions for stability. 

As one of the most prosperous regions in Africa, the Namibian Chair inherited rising expectations from citizens in the region. With SADC, one of two cores in Namibia’s regional integration strategy, President Geingob pursued activist diplomacies in favor of a better region than the one inherited from the preceding Chair, South Africa. To reflect domestic aspirations and projecting them as a regional priority, Namibia marshaled the region under the Summit theme: Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development.” Without question, the task of passing on a better region to the incoming Chair, Tanzania has been accomplished. What are the markers of success during the tenure of President Geingob? 

Hours before handing over to Tanzania, Namibia’s success in the diplomacies of the region is not just a function of Presidential craftsmanship in the art and conduct of foreign policy. Yes the experiences of President Geingob as a peacemaker and mediator are crucial. Perhaps more important, when President Geingob drives summit and regional diplomacies as Chair of SADC, these initiatives are at all times backed up by the power of the Namibian example. History - our nation-building project, our collective learned experiences, our aspirations, our failures and successes as a nation determine what the President as the lead foreign policy actor can accomplish in attempts to coopt and to persuade regional peers about actions and positions to be undertaken. These are constituents in the power of an example. 

The power of the Namibian example lies mainly in our country’s normative assets as an exemplary democracy, one of the five freest in terms of rights in Africa, hosting the freest press on the continent and a country where differences are mediated through dialogue and not coercion or violence. Many global indicators reinforce the sanity of our governance infrastructure. Additionally, Namibia is a normative power because of its peaceful transition and ability to dismantle apartheid, reconciling former enemies, which continues to serve as an example and case study for post-Cold War political transitions in deeply divided societies. 

The Republican tenet on rule of law, predictability of institutions and Presidential infrastructure of citizen consultation by Town Hall Meetings, the Presidential Advisory Council and the ethos of collective decision-making are not locked in a safe at State House when President Geingob is engaging in regional problem solving and decision-making. These are instinctively activated in the Presidential diplomacies of the SADC Chair in letters to counterparts, phone-calls, one on one discussions and at summit meetings. 

After all, it is no small feat, but a robust reflection of peaceful Presidential transitions when former Heads of State honor dozen invitations from a serving President. Unquestionably, this and other domestic practices (achievements) as enunciated are part of the diplomatic reflexes of President Geingob. That former and serving Presidents can co-exist peacefully in an African country has been an integral part of the vocabulary and persuasive arsenal of the President in engagements with interlocutors on both sides of the political Potomac prior to the December 2018 elections in the DRC. Peaceful elections, good governance and orderly transfers were part of the political vocabulary of the President when hosting a consultative dinner on 16 November 2018 to discuss the political situation in the DRC, Zimbabwe, the Comoros and Lesotho. A country that is not peaceful and does not respect the rule of law will struggle to motivate or convince others to do so. A country leads a regional organization on the basis of domestic successes. 

President Geingob as SADC Chair has throughout his tenure projected the Namibian experience and the power of its example in the regional diplomacies of the regional organization. Despite lingering doubts about elections taking place, the DRC had without doubt its best elections since independence in late 2018, and the first peaceful transfer of power on 24 January 2019. It occurred under the watch of President Geingob, urging DRC opposition leaders to participate peacefully late on a Friday evening in November 2018 at State House; leading the SADC region at a joint summit in Congo Brazzaville on 26 December 2018, and calling for respect of the domestic institutions in the DRC at a decisive summit in Addis Ababa in January 2019.  

Prior to the March 2019 elections in the Union of the Comoros, President Geingob held several meetings on the margins of key summits with President Azali Assoumani of that country, emphasizing wisely the importance of stability, credible elections and holding hands in order to move the country forward.  In June 2019, a few weeks before the historic Maputo Peace Accord on 6 August 2019, the SADC Chair, President Geingob encouraged President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, saying; “You make peace with your enemies and not your friends”.  When President Geingob led the SADC Regional Appeal Humanitarian Appeal for member states affected by climatic disasters, (raising an amount 204 Million US Dollars), it was out of an understanding that our liberation experience benefitted immensely from the solidarity of others.

Madagascar, following elections in December 2018 and the inauguration of a new President in January 2018 is showing signs of steady progress. This is a snapshot of what has been an eventful year for the outgoing Chair of SADC, President Geingob. Presidential diplomacies, involving days outside Namibia, solving problems, acting and speaking on behalf of the region have been about strengthening opportunities for Namibians, in a stable and prosperous SADC. 

As the curtain falls on the tenure of President Geingob as Chair of SADC, Namibians should be proud about the energy, integrity and intensity with which their President projected and reinforced the power of the Namibian example in the diplomacies of the SADC region. Namibia gained prestige and respect from its peers.

Dr Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari is the presidential spokesperson

Staff Reporter
2019-08-16 08:11:05 | 9 months ago

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