• August 13th, 2020

The most unlucky Namibian presidents of our times

Patrick Nyambe Masiziani

This article analyses three Namibian heads of state of our times. Developments made by each president during his tenure of office and the challenges encountered. There is much evidence that good progress has been made in stabilising this country after the apartheid regime which dates back 30 years ago. Credit goes to the founding father of the Namibian nation Sam Nujoma’s visionary leadership. Nujoma will be remembered as a unifier, not only for his unique role during the implementation of a policy of national reconciliation between blacks and whites, but also uniting Namibian tribes from all walks of lives. 
The outside world expected the worst to happen just after the attainment of independence, but the extraordinary political leadership approach employed by the founding father diffused the ticking time bomb at that time. Of course, Nujoma faced challenges such as the civil war led by Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi of MPLA which intensified in late 90s to early 2000 prior to his death. The notable predicament by that civil war is the death of so many innocent people especially from the Zambezi and Kavango regions which led to the introduction of an escort arrangement headed by the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) and Namibian Police between Divundu and Kongola. It will be unfair not to mention the rebellion by Caprivi secessionist group under the leadership of Muyongo, which also claimed many lives in the Zambezi region. Some challenges during Nujoma’s era includes corruption which saw the Government Institutions Pension Fund (GIPF) and Social Security Commission (SSC) losing millions of dollars at the expense of tax payers’ money. It is worth mentioning that a top leader was implicated in the SSC scandal through AVID Investment. Though there were these challenges, Nujoma rose to the occasion as developments can be witnessed in road and rail infrastructures especially the railway between Tsumeb and Ondangwa to mention but a few. On the other hand, many political commentators and economists are of the view that President Pohamba’s era was more of stabilisation and the maintenance of peace. Pohamba should not only be remembered for his role in maintaining peace but also the mitigation of corruption. This bears the truth as evidence points that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has its birth during his tenure of office. President Pohamba also implemented a few projects for instance, the upgrade of the Port of Walvis Bay and upgrade for Ondangwa Airport. It is also worth mentioning that Pohamba’s term of office had its own corruption scandals, notably the issue of Chinese scholarships to children of a few elites, the fuel storage facility at Walvis Bay and the failure of the much anticipated solution to sky rocketing shack dwellings (the Mass Housing initiative) which benefited those with political connections including his own daughter. Pohamba’s term also faced a daunting task due to the global economic meltdown that resulted in massive job losses in 2008/2009.   
Meanwhile, the current President Hage Geingob’s administration is tarnished by a number of scandals such as the disappearance of funds from the SME Bank considered to be his own brainchild when he was trade and industry minister, the Kora Music Award scandal and the recent Fishrot scandal. However, President Geingob has a number of initiatives outlined in the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) for instance the food bank and the servicing of land to curtail housing shortage experienced in the country. The capital projects under his watch include the upgrade of Hosea Kutako International Airport and the Windhoek Okahandja Dual Carriage Road. In essence, Geingob’s term of office in my view should be seen as the most unluck presidential tenure of our times. This is because of the natural disasters for which he had no control that happened during his time of office, notably the 2018/2019 devastating drought situation in Namibia and the current Covid-19 outbreak, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It remains to be seen if Geingob will revive the economy given the above challenges. This raises questions how the country’s populace will remember his legacy after his tenure. In my opinion, Geingob could use some of the challenges posed by disasters such as Covid-19 and turn them into opportunities. For example, challenges such as the homeless, who are currently housed at some centres like football stadiums, if government under Geingob could find a lasting solution to the homeless could be a political score card for remembrance of his term of office. In addition, some political scores could be achieved through the advancement of the health sector amid critics about the public hospitals from the general public.  
* Patrick Nyambe Masiziani is a scholar with an M.A. Comparative Local Development, B. A. Honours in Development Studies. The views expressed in this article are his own.

Staff Reporter
2020-04-22 10:11:21 | 3 months ago

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