Swapo members honour their late president

WINDHOEK: The late Dr Hage Geingob was a liberation hero, a symbol of unity, a skilled diplomat, negotiator, and administrator, as well as a Statesman who made a significant contribution to both the Swapo Party and the country of Namibia. This is how members and supporters of the ruling Swapo Party remembered their former party president and Namibian Head of State on Sunday night at a candlelight vigil held at the party's headquarters here. Geingob, 82, died in office from cancer complications on 04 February in Windhoek, and he will be buried on 25 February 2024. Senior party leaders, including Swapo Vice President Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa, and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, paid luminous tributes during the candlelight vigil. 'I have known Hage for 49 years and five months. And since we met for the first time in 1974, when three girls fresh from home were accommodated at his flat in Harlem, New York, our operational areas have been very close. And that is why this is the one difficult moment for me to talk about, on this occasion when we are saying, 'Comrade Hage is no more',' Nandi-Ndaitwah said. She noted that Geingob joined Swapo during the formative years of the former liberation movement. 'And throughout his entire life, he had committed himself to Swapo and the liberation of our country,' she said, adding that Geingob never failed the party or the government in the different roles he served. 'Every task that was given to him, he accomplished with great success. And this is the man we remember,' Nandi-Ndaitwah said. She added that Geingob did not hesitate when he was tasked with leading a team to set up the Swapo machinery in preparation for the 1989 UN-supervised elections. Nandi-Ndaitwah also remembered the role Geingob played in the establishment of the UN Council for Namibia in 1967. She said that many Namibians in exile could not travel to many countries due to a lack of travel documents. And it was through the initiative of people like Geingob that things changed when the UN Council for Namibia was established. 'They were allowed to issue UN Council for Namibia passports that had facilitated the travel of Namibians. Before that, Namibians could travel only between Lusaka, Luanda, and Dar es Salaam, the only countries that allowed Namibians to travel on Swapo membership cards,' she recalled. Nandi-Ndaitwah worked closely with Geingob during his time as the director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia (UNIN) in Lusaka, Zambia. During that time, she was the Swapo representative for Namibia in central Africa, based in Lusaka. 'Therefore, in that capacity, I also oversaw the activities of UNIN as far as Swapo was concerned. And I must tell you, I really enjoyed working with comrade Hage at that time,' she said. Geingob was elected Swapo's third president in November 2017. He was re-elected to the same position in 2022 and was expected to lead the party through this year's Presidential and National Assembly elections. During his time of death, the former president was serving his last five-year term in office, after first being elected Head of State in 2014. 'I want to tell you that, and I am saying this with confidence, that as much as comrade Hage loved Swapo and the Namibian nation, his party Swapo equally loved him,' Nandi-Ndaitwah said. On her part, Prime Minister Kuugongelwa-Amadhila expressed that Namibia has lost 'a visionary and revolutionary leader who dedicated his life to serving others.' She said that Geingob's tireless effort with other cadres at the UN resulted in the recognition of Swapo as the sole representative of the people of Namibia. And Geingob 'helped develop a pool of cadres that became critical in establishing our new independent republic. Many of those who took up leadership positions at different levels and different branches of Government and outside the public sector went through his hands as director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia,' she said. Also as the first prime minister of Namibia, Kuugongelwa-Amadh ila said Geingob oversaw the establishment of the Namibian public service and ensured smooth integration under the policy of national reconciliation. Shaningwa, Swapo's SG said the news of Geingob's passing hit the Swapo family very hard. 'It hit us; it shocked us unexpectedly. Dr Hage Geingob I cannot believe he is not here. I would really like to give enough words of wisdom at this very dark hour in our party and our country,' Shaningwa said. Source: The Namibia Press Agency