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May 29, 2024

Namibian President Hage Geingob Dies at Age 82

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Feb 4, 2024

Namibian President Hage Geingob, a veteran of the country’s freedom struggle who led the resource-rich country since 2015, has died at the age of 82. He passed away on February 4th, 2023 while receiving medical treatment for cancer.

Background

Geingob was a key figure in Namibia’s fight for independence from apartheid South Africa. He helped draft Namibia’s constitution after the country gained its freedom in 1990.

Geingob served as Namibia’s first Prime Minister from 1990 to 2002 under President Sam Nujoma. He later served as Trade Minister and was the country’s first Prime Minister after independence.

Geingob was first elected President in 2014 and re-elected in 2019. His death comes just over a year before the next presidential election scheduled for 2024.

Reaction

News of Geingob’s passing was met by an outpouring of tributes from African leaders. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who visited Geingob earlier this week, expressed his condolences:

“I am deeply saddened by the devastating news today. My brother, President Geingob was a true son of Africa who played a critical role in the liberation of his country.”

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat called Geingob an “ardent champion of pan-African unity and integration.”

Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, tweeted:

Saddened by death of President Geingob of Namibia. Knew him for 30+ yrs from when we worked together for Namibia’s independence. Always warm, wise & with great sense of humour – a loss for Namibia & region.

Succession

As per Namibia’s constitution, Vice President Nangolo Mbumba was quickly sworn in on the same day as the country’s new president to complete Geingob’s term until the next election in late 2024.

Mbumba has been Vice President since 2015 and also served from 2010 to 2015 when Geingob was Prime Minister. At 77 years of age, he is not expected to run for a full term in next year’s election.

Nangolo Mbumba – Namibia’s New President
Age: 77 years
Position: Vice President since 2015
Previous Role: Vice President 2010-2015

Defense Minister Frans Kapofi has emerged as an early favorite to become the next presidential nominee for the ruling SWAPO party. Other potential candidates include Paulus Kapia and Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

Geingobs death opens up debate within SWAPO over its future leadership and direction. The party has dominated Namibian politics since independence but lost significant voter support in the 2019 election.

Challenges Facing Namibia

As the new President takes office, Namibia faces significant headwinds. Key challenges include:

  • Persistent droughts and worsening food security
  • High levels of income inequality and poverty
  • Calls for land reform by Black citizens left disadvantaged by German colonial rule
  • Falling revenues from diamond exports which account for 10% of the economy
  • High unemployment over 33% among youth

Voters have grown frustrated in recent years with slow progress in addressing inequality and delivering economic growth to more Namibians. Nationwide protests erupted in 2021 over a lack of housing and proper sanitation facilities for the majority population.

Geingob had responded with a “Harambee Prosperity Plan” focused on infrastructure development and targeted assistance programs but results have so far been modest.

Geingobs Legacy

Geingob will be remembered as one of Namibia’s “founding fathers” who helped lead the nation to independence and shape its early democracy.

He assisted in drafting the constitution which established the country as a stable, multi-party state with protection of civil liberties. Geingob can also be credited with consolidating peace, political tolerance and institutional governance in the early years after apartheid.

On the economy, progress has been more muted. Supporters praise his recent infrastructure projects, rural development programs and attempts at land reform.

Critics however argued much more structural change was needed to undo the racial economic inequality that continued long after independence.

Ultimately the pursuit of prosperity and equitable growth for all Namibians will remain the key challenge for Geingob’s successor. Whichever candidate emerges, filling the shoes of the towering leader who just passed will certainly be no easy task.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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