‘We have come of age’, says Geingob

SANF 20 no 07
President Hage Geingob has reminded fellow Namibians of the progress that the country has made since independence in 1990 and need to cherish the international support that made it all possible.

“We have matured in our Constitutional Democracy; we are stronger, more resilient and determined to prevail in this second phase of our struggle for economic emancipation. Indeed, we have come of age,” he said as he took oath of office for his second term in office.

“Namibia today and Namibia at independence are miles apart.”

Geingob, the third president of the republic, was speaking on the occasion of the 30th independence celebrations for Namibia on 21 March, which also coincided with his inauguration as president for a second five-year term.

Geingob highlighted that among the improvements realised in Namibia since independence was a 30 percent increase in the number of school-going children; a transformed and inclusive national health system now catering for all Namibians regardless of race; and a 45 percent increase in tarred road network in the country.

The speech built upon his inauguration speech in 2015, when he famously remarked, “No Namibian must feel left out.”

The country’s independence was born out of a protracted struggle for liberation that attracted the attention of several majority-ruled countries in southern Africa as well as Cuba.

“Namibia is a Child of International Solidarity, friend to all and enemy to none,” said Geingob in 2015, in a speech reminiscent of a history lesson where he detailed the support that Namibia received from the international community towards the fight for emancipation.

The founding President Sam Nujoma had in his inauguration speech in 1990, also famously said that Namibia’s independence was “a welcome and laudable culmination of many years of consistent support for our cause.”

The fight for self-determination in Namibia lasted more than four decades and was a result of the determination of the young Namibian men and women in the trenches, led by the revolutionary South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), which fought against South African occupation since 1966.

The realization of independence in 1990 was, therefore, a fitting tribute to the heroism and tenacity of Namibians, with support from their friends and supporters from southern Africa and beyond.

The pinnacle of the fight for independence was the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale that was fought in the Cuando Cubango Province in Angola from August 1987 to March 1988, which resulted in a negotiated settlement under which Cuban troops would pull out of Angola in exchange for the withdrawal of South African Defence Forces from Namibia.

United Nations-supervised elections followed on 7-11 November 1989, which were won by SWAPO, with 57.33 percent of the total ballots cast.

That started the journey that has seen Namibia being led by three presidents since independence –

Sam Nujoma who served three terms from 1990 to 2004; Hifikepunye Pohamba from 2005 to 2014; and the incumbent Geingob who has just commenced his second term.

The end of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale was a significant milestone in the southern African region, and is now being commemorated annually as the Southern Africa Liberation Day.

Another major achievement by Namibia since independence is the country’s strides towards achieving gender equality.

Namibia is among countries that have witnessed a significant increase in the number of women parliamentarians in the world.

According to Inter-Parliamentary Union rankings, Namibia is ranked number 15 out of 179 parliaments in the world when it comes to the representation of women in parliament, coming third only to Rwanda and South Africa on the continent.

Following elections held in November 2019, women account for about 43 percent of parliamentarians in the National Assembly and 19 percent in the National Council.

This is mainly due to a quota system adopted by the ruling party SWAPO Party. The party is leading a quiet gender revolution under which it has committed to filling half of its seats in parliament with women and half with men.

In keeping with the policy of striving for gender equality, Geingob on 22 March appointed nine women to be part of a 24-member cabinet.

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are both women, as are the ministers responsible for justice; industrialisation and trade; and education. sardc.net

Southern African News Features offers a reliable source of regional information and analysis on the Southern African Development Community, and is provided as a service to the SADC region. 

This article may be reproduced with credit to the author and publisher.

SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985.      Email sanf[at]sardc.net     

Website and Virtual Library for Southern Africa     www.sardc.net  Knowledge for Development