The Namibian nation was plunged into mourning yesterday following the sudden death of long-serving politician and All People’s Party president Ignatius Shixwameni.
He was 55. Shixwameni, who died after collapsing during a parliamentary committee meeting in Windhoek, has been described as an astute politician and a steadfast leader who championed democracy.
National Assembly acting secretary Kathleen Nakutta in a statement yesterday confirmed Shixwameni’s passing, saying he died while attending the meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Security. The National Assembly sitting was yesterday called off in his honour.
Leading the tributes, Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani yesterday extended his sympathy to the family of the late Shixwameni, describing him as a respected, charismatic and principled individual who served the August House and the Namibian nation at large with fervent patriotism.
“Honourable Shixwameni will be remembered
by his colleagues and indeed by Namibians at large as a steadfast leader, a man of conviction and one with a fierce determination to steer his country towards progress and shared prosperity,” Venaani said.
He said Shixwameni’s tenure will specifically be remembered for introducing a motion in parliament in 2012 to discuss the implementation of what he termed a Basic Poor Household Income Grant which sought to provide a safety net for poorer households, thus clearly outlining Shixwameni’s commitment to the downtrodden in the country.
“Shixwameni’s longevity in the political arena and his contributions to the betterment of our society will be sorely missed,” he said. Former leader of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) Ben Ulenga, who also founded the party along with Shixwameni in 1999 after defecting from Swapo, yesterday said he was shocked to hear of his passing.
“His passing is not only a loss to his family, is a loss to Namibia as a country. The nation has lost a leading candidate for democracy. May his soul rest in peace,” he said.
Nudo parliamentarian Josef Kauandenge said Shixwameni will fondly be remembered as a man of few but lethal words. According to him, Shixwameni’s best part in parliament was to interject with precision and wisdom, which “very few fellow parliamentarians can match”.
Former Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Elijah Ngurare said the late Shixwameni inspired many young people of his generation to rise to action, to assert their rights and bravely drummed them to become freedom fighters. He said Shixwameni galvanised the youth of Namibia through the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) and SPYL to fight for freedom and independence.
“During my secondary school years in Kavango and Erongo, Shixwameni inspired many of us with his bravery, his wit, his humility, his nationalism and his respect for tradition and unquenchable desire for equitable distribution of wealth to all Namibians,” he said.
Ngurare added in the book of the liberation struggle, the name of Shixwameni shall be etched in revolutionary gold. “To his widow, Mrs Louise Shixwameni, his children and his bereaved family, and his political party, APP, we extend our sincerest condolences for this irreplaceable loss,” said Ngurare. “Honourable Shixwameni was a freedom fighter and a national hero in his own right. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
Shixwameni was born in Shambyu, in the Kavango East region. He was a student leader of the Nanso at the dawn of independence. He was also a Swapo youth leader from 1987 to 1999 and a Swapo central committee member from 1992 to 1997. Elected to parliament in 1999 as a member of the party, he joined the opposition CoD in 2000 as their chief whip.
Shixwameni resigned from the CoD in December 2007, along with 21 other members. He founded a new party, the APP. In October 2009, the APP selected him as the party’s candidate for president.