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Reasons why Dr Hage Geingob should be Namibia's Third President of Namibia

In a wide-ranging interview with Namibian Sun senior reporter Elvis Muraranganda, SWAPO Presidential Candidate and Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, Dr. Hage Geingob has laid out several initiatives he believes will propel Namibia and its government on a path of prosperity for all.

1.Why does Hage Geingob want to be president of Namibia? Background
I became politically active in my teenage years and left my beloved country and family at the age of 22 to actively participate in SWAPO's fight for the liberation of the Namibian people. I made this sacrifice out of principle and not for the pursuit of power or position.Comrade Founding Father, Sam Nujomawas quick to identify my leadership capacity and entrusted me with critical leadership roles from a young age. In many ways, he shaped me the way a father would.

He assigned me roles which grew me as a person, as a freedom fighter, a politician and as a public servant. As a full-time student in New York, I was assigned as the SWAPO Representative and my task was to ensure international recognition for SWAPO. This took lots of hard work, lobbying and international diplomacy and it culminated in the critical recognition by the United Nations in 1976 of SWAPO as the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people.

I have been a long-serving member of the leadership structure of SWAPO and fulfilled, amongst many other roles, my role as the Director of the United Nations Institute of Namibia which was responsible for training Namibians who would form the backbone of Namibian government and I was also assigned to be the leader of the delegation which returned to Namibia in 1989. I therefore headed the SWAPO election campaign and after the SWAPO victory, I chaired the Constituent Assembly which drafted the Constitution. As first Prime Minister of Namibia, I was responsible to transform a colonial administration, that utilized the country's mineral and labour resources to exclusively cater for the social, economic and political comforts of the minority white population and extend this into a national government which sought to cater for the needs of all its citizens without excluding those who benefitted in the past. This included establishing democratic institutions from scratch as well as developing governance and administrative frameworks for both the civil service and state owned enterprises.

The transition from being a leader in a liberation movement to a national leader was difficult from a psychological, political and administrative perspective and I believe that SWAPO as a party, its leaders and members as individuals and the government as an institution has not been given enough praise for this transition. It was very complex transition yet it happened in a manner that made Namibia the political success story it is today.

In terms of wanting to be President, it was the leadership of Comrade Founding President, Sam Nujoma and Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba who believed me to be the most suitable candidate based on my track record. I assume it is because they threw me into the deep end of complex leadership roles on numerous times in the 50 years I have been a leader in the SWAPO party and I have never disappointed them and I will not start disappointing them or the SWAPO party at this critical juncture in our country's socioeconomic landscape. These leaders wanted me to become President. I have never been intimidated by the tasks assigned to me and I am not intimidated now. I am grateful for their continued trust in me and fortunate that the intricate leadership roles I have occupied suitably equipped me to become the next President of Namibia.

Every single person has a desire for a chance to make a difference in the life of others. I am no different and it is my desire to be a transformational leader but it is also my belief that leadership, at this level, is God-given and that is why nobody can cheat or manipulate their way into this role. I am humbled by the assignment and understand it to be a destiny path for which SWAPO has prepared me for throughout my adult life. It is a mammoth responsibility which I take with great seriousness. Grace, determination and hard work has characterized all of my leadership roles and I believe the assignment of President will be no different. The process of how I became Vice President is well known as I emerged as the SWAPO Party Presidential Candidate at the 2012 SWAPO Party Congress through a democratic process at which three candidates, ComradePendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Comrade Jerry Ekandjo and myself vied for the position of SWAPO Party Vice President knowing that whoever emerged victorious would be the party's sole presidential candidate. The victor would have to unite the party and eliminate any remnants of factionalism that could have naturally existed while the three candidates were contesting. As can be seen from the attendance at the SWAPO Party rallies, the task of uniting the party has been successfully executed. You have seen that those who were defeated have been out in full support of the presidential candidate.

After the results of the 2012 SWAPO Party Congress, President Pohamba appointed me immediately as Prime Minister. He told me that had any of the other contestants emerged victorious, the same would have been done for them. Through these actions, SWAPO has displayed that it has a blueprint for managing change and succession. If you don't manage change it can destroy you. We have seen this all around the world. Therefore the members of the SWAPO Party decided to choose me as their presidential candidate and I am honored by this.

2. What character traits and experiences do you bring to your presidential candidacy that will help you when the time comes to be president?

Firstly, I would like to say that my slogan during the election campaign has been,"No Namibian should feel left out."I believe that no region, race, class or tribe should feel left out. I believe strongly in unity and the principle of "One Namibian one nation."Because of my multicultural upbringing and experiences, I am against racism and tribalism. These two are two sides of the same coin and have destroyed many nations. Furthermore, I believe in consultative leadership. I am secure in my leadership abilities and this allows me to recognize talent in others and my preference is to surround myself with strong and capable people and develop them into leaders who understand the value of providing honest advice and have the capacity to execute their tasks as nobody is able to be a successful leader alone. I am a Follower - leader,hardworking and tolerant.

Strength of character As a politician, one often feels misunderstood by the media and I have learnt not to allow negative portrayals to prevent me from seeing the bigger picture. I am a human being like everyone else and am susceptible to the natural feelings of hurt and anger at unfair and malicious criticism but I have learnt over time to accept this even though it does hurt. A long and bitter battle was fought to ensure Namibians the constitutional freedoms they enjoy today which includes freedom of expression so as much as I lament unfair (and often) dishonest attacks on my character, I am comforted by the fact that this is part of the independent and democratic Namibia SWAPO fought for and for which many people lost or sacrificed their lives for.It is the democratic right of Namibians to articulate their views although my wish is that we raise the level of socio-economic and political debate to a higher standard of objectivity and fairness.

I have gone through many trials and tribulations both politically and personally and I believe all of those experiences have shaped my character to be able to stand away from the noise and focus on what matters.

3. What agendas drive you nationally, regionally, continentally and globally? And why?

National Agendas
Nationally, I believe indevoting time for betterment of my fellow human beings. Therefore Iwill fight against the politics of exclusion where only a few privileged few enjoy the fruits of independence while many were excluded. When peaceful activities were suppressed through force by the South African regime, we decided to take up arms, proclaiming that we shall cross many rivers of blood to gain our independence.In the spirit of fair play, after having attained independence, we pursued the policy ofreconciliation for the sake of peace. This is another important driving force.

The Namibian Government inherited a myriad of social deficits caused by the policy of excluding people based on color lines. Racism and poverty based on color lines makes these social deficits more conspicuous although we have had 25 years to hold hands. We are a country in transition. Around the world, many countries have transitioned fromcommand economies to market economies. We have seen the collapse of socialism and the rise of market economies. Likewise, Namibia transitioned from an apartheid system based on exclusion and separation to a democratic system based on inclusion and unity.

African Agendas
I am a Pan Africanist and believe in Africa harmonizing its practices, both administrative and economic. With regards to economics and commerce, I believe that we need to work towards the operationalization of a free trade zone in Africathat was adopted at the EAC-SADCCOMESA Summit on Wednesday 22 October 2008 by the heads of Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC).

Through our Regional Economic Communities (RECS), we can push towards harmonization and increased economic interaction and integration. We must champion Intra African trade and the free movement of Africans and African goods. This will help accelerate the process of integration and harmonization. Namibia is already ready and geared for this as can be seen by the singing of the African Union anthem as per the advice of Comrade Sam Nujoma.

Global Agendas
The world is a small village and no country can afford isolation. Namibia, being a child of international solidarity believes in having no enemies and only friends. It is therefore critical that we foster relations with countries with whom we have a historical, geographical and culturalconnection for example Angola and South Africa. Namibia is sandwiched in between two giants. We have to leverage the geographical proximity of these two giants, SouthAfrica andAngola. Internationally you have countries like Cuba, whose citizens made the ultimate sacrifice in helping us achieve independence. Therefore a friend in need is a friend indeed. We also have superpowers that we cannot do without such as the United States, China and Russia.

We have Germany, with whom we have a special relationship. It is therefore important toposition ourselves to maintain a good relationship with these countries. We need to coexist with these economic giants since we need them to add value to our natural resources in line with our industrial policy. Resources that are in raw form are of no value to our people. People don't eat diamonds or uranium. Therefore merely stating that we are endowed with these minerals is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. We need to leverage these endowments by providing a conducive environment for investors to come and add value to our resources in partnership with Namibians. But whoever comes must come on our terms.That in brief is my outlook.

4. How will you tackle inequalities in Namibian society?

War on poverty
Firstly, I will declare all-out war on poverty and concomitant inequality. My focal point will be to address inequality, poverty and hunger and that will involve looking at a range of choices of how to go about tackling this issue. There won't be just one approach. There need to be a myriad of options and not a one size fits all approach. Our problem is that ofracializedincome inequality and if left unchecked, may culminate in social upheaval. We need to critically increase the participation of Namibians play in the economy while also providing a dignified socio-economic environment for low-income earners and vulnerable members of our nation which looks at providing means to escape or alleviate poverty.

Review of Investment Law Investors in Namibia have operated for years without any obligations to increase Namibian participation in their companies. This has to change. This is why the process of reviewing the Investment Act of 1990 began during the tenure of Comrade Immanuel Ngatjizeko as the Minister of Trade and Industry and continued when I became the Minister of Trade and Industry.My colleagues, are about to complete this review process so that a new law can be established in which there will be a clear definition of what an investor is. There will also be an outline of strategic minerals which no foreigner will be able to own 100%. This law will also define and outline business activities that should only be carried out by Namibians such as certain forms of retail, services such as hair salons, trading and transport. We will also encourage Joint Venture Partnerships since the Government and Namibians do not have money for high-risk activities such as speculation and mining exploration. The aim therefore is to create a conducive environment in which Namibians have a largerstake and a greater role to play as shareholders and employees and where we can place Namibians in the engine room of the economy. Our constitution supports this vision and all Namibians who share a vision of a united and peaceful country should support initiatives aimed at redressing economic and social inequalities. I also plan to also revisit poverty alleviation solutions such as the Basic Income Grant and look at new solutions like theFood Bank which issues I will elaborate on at a more appropriate time.

5. What are the foundations built by your predecessors - Hifikepunye Pohamba and Sam Nujoma - that you want to build upon?

Managed leadership change
There is a unique situation of leadership change in Namibia. That is why we say that the legacy must continue. This is the legacy of Comrades Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba. Comrade Nujoma came into power during a very difficult time. The milieu at that time was characterized by hatred, suspicions and fear ofthe unknown. The apartheid regime had pushed out its propaganda, depicting Comrade Nujoma as a terrorist and not human. He proceeded to lay a firm foundation of reconciliation during hisadministration. We therefore had peace, unity and democratic dispensation characterized by free press. The most free press in Africa. No journalist during the time of Comrade Nujoma or Comrade Pohamba has been arrested.

Foundation laid by the Founding Father and Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba Comrade Sam Nujoma has laid a foundation based on patriotism, remembering those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and has therefore left in place a legacy of not accepting evil and oppression against other human beings. President Pohamba consolidated the achievements of Comrade Nujoma and brought stability. Under his leadership, Namibia has continued to be known as a peaceful country, living in peace with its neighbours. President Pohamba has played a significant role in the area of peace by participating to solve several African conflict situations. As the Chairman of SADC and the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security he has also played a critical role in mediating numerous political crises within SADC.

Second phase of the struggle
We are now enteringthe second phase of struggle as espoused by the Comrade Nujoma. We haveunity, peace, a good constitution and all the manifestations of a democratic good governance such as free press, independent judiciary and many other democratic institutions.

However, people don't eat those things. The second phase of our struggle will therefore deal with socio economic inequalities. We subscribe to the Marxist dictum of; "Each according to his ability and each according to his needs."For those with ability such as the businesspeople and entrepreneurs, we provide a conducive and fair environment to make money and plow back into the economy without the expectation of bailouts or favors norbribery and corruption. We have to tackle the cultureand mentality where the private sector believes it to be normal to lure public officials into corrupt practices and the resulting expectation of those in charge of public resources that soliciting or receiving personal reward for doing their jobs is acceptable.

These are thorny issues to be addressed and many will be antagonized as a result. While those who have the capacityengaged in entrepreneurial activity and creating wealth and jobs, the state will concentrate on the low income and the vulnerable.Tackling issues such as schools at which children are still taught under trees. This is abhorrent in modern days. We need to tackle the issue of shacks in urban areas which have mushroomed due to the free movement of people. Urban hunger must also be addressed. The land issue will need to be tackled in a responsible and effective way. We don't want a situation in which land is glorified only for people to get that land and starve on it. Look at my situation. I have a farm which I refer to as a "bush" which I am working towards turning into a productive farm. The bush must be tamed to become productive land.

Furthermore, anyone can play on the emotions of people. We all know those tactics. However, what we need is responsible, fair and mature leadership. Our constitution makes provision for the"expropriation" of land and this is something we need to look at, especially in the case of absentee land owners. We also have vast state land at our disposal such as the Mangetti farm and other areas. This land needs to be used for the production of food to address poverty and hunger. The pricing and availability of water and electricity are also key issues. Resettlement should be done in a better managed way. You cannot just take land and settle people there. This is why I have called for the establishment of ManagementCommittee Companies to manage resettlement farms. In these companies, the resettled people will be shareholders who will be provided training to be able to be better armed to manage farms and live offthem instead of starving on them. This can be done through collaborative effort of farmers who are Namibians. There are many burning issues which have reached crisis point and other issues which are about to become problematic and all of these are happening in an atmosphere of impatience and high expectations. Not one of the crisis points such as housing, education, health, water, electricity is more important than the other one so Government will need to urgently address numerous critical areas simultaneously and within a limited national budget. It is therefore a given that not a single Namibian can justify sitting on the fence and excluding themselves from the process of finding and implementing solutions. Individual interests need to be overridden by the interest of a stable society.Nobody must be left out in building this country.

7. What are the character traits that you are looking for in those who will occupy Cabinet and other government leadership positions?

Clear vision
Those to be appointed should be given clear-cut terms of reference. Before they assume office, they should know what is expected from them. They should have a work plan and vision. The vision and work plan will map out a five year delivery system with clear and well defined deliverables. Similar to Vision 2030 and the National Development Plans, leaders will have to develop five year annual plans with work schedules that should be reviewed weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually to gauge themselves. This system calls for leadership from top down, meaning everyone from the President, Vice President, Prime Minister, Ministers and Permanent Secretaries should work according to a clear-cut plan. Need for a culture change The culture of people not owning up to their responsibilities must be eliminated. We are good at passing the buck. This must be stopped and those who perform will be rewarded and those who don't perform will have to bear the consequences of non-performance.

Ministers must be in charge. Currently some ministers are afraid of their permanent secretaries because they are told that Ministers come and go but permanent secretaries are permanent. This is why the title of permanent secretaries must be changed to connote more accountability. Many of them are on borrowed time. I do not want a continuation of this culture in which civil servants and permanent secretaries are also businessmen and women. I am aware that people were denied from participating in business and making money in the past and that their children must live and benefit from fruits of struggle and independence. However, we cannot have conflict of interest.

Review of tender system
The tender system must also be scrutinized. I know that through my discussions with the Minister of Finance, the revisedbill is coming back to parliament. It is crucial that tender procedures are closely followed. Once all legal systems are in place, we aim to make this process available online.

Tribalism is also something that will be dealt with. Namibians seem to be more conscious of who they are along tribal lines. We fought against bantustans but many are going back to that. We need to nip tribalism in the bud, by whatever name it is called.

Furthermore, the policy of 50/ 50, which the SWAPO Party has championed and implemented must permeate the psyche of the entire nation so that we can know we are all equals.

Youth Empowerment
The youth must be empowered and I am happy to note that many young people have a chance to go to parliament. They are being politically empowered through being elected but must also be economically empowered through quality education, employment advancement and business creation.SMEs must be supported through the SME Bank and Development Bank of Namibia.

Constitutional Amendments
Although no direct question was asked related to what I am about to say, I would like to finish off answering this question by expressing my view on the constitutional amendments. Every process we undergo allows us to do a post-mortem and improve upon the process for future reference. I have reflected on what would need to improve in future and I trust those who were against the amendments will too reflect on their conduct. Some made valid points but many engaged in what I considered to be dishonest academic discourse.

There are those who are instinctively opposed to everything SWAPO does and this prevents objective analysis. Their main point settled on lack of consultation and the amassing of power by the President.When one bifurcates the office of the President, how can that be akin to amassing power? How do you amass power when by creating the post of Vice President you dilute the power of the President? Secondly, administrative power which exists in the Presidency is transferred to the Prime Minister. This was a re-distribution of power which is good for democracy and not amassing of power as dishonestly claimed by many political commentators.

8. What are your views about the SWAPO Party Electoral College and what are the trends you have picked up from the results?

Inner Party Democracy
The SWAPO Party must be congratulated for it has processes that are truly democratic by any standards. We managed to build in the empowerment of women in our system by saying that every position should be contested by three candidates of which at least one should be a woman. The elections were free and transparent and people were elected from regions on a 50/50 basis before coming to the pot.

There were two voters' rolls, one for women and another for men. Cross voting took place and the results were accepted. One thing we should learn to understand in Africa is that there will always be a winner and a loser.

This is the Price of democracy. As in the National Elections, those who are aggrieved can go to the courts. This is the same intheSWAPO Party which has a disciplinary committee looking into various grievances. Like I said, there will always be winners and losers. Someone has to emerge victorious. One has to be magnanimous in victory. Opposition parties can be defeated at thepolls but this does not deprive them of their citizenship. The problem is "Savimbi Syndrome" as I alluded to in my thesis. In Africa, there is always that feeling of, "If I did not emerge victorious then something went wrong and the process must be destroyed and the country made ungovernable". I am talking from experience. I have been defeated in the past, sometimes in a questionable way but I never cried foul, ran to the newspapers to play victim or attempted to undermine those who won.

Contrary to what you hear about factions, as you can see from campaign, there is unity in the SWAPO Party. That is what the Electoral College produced and the members who emerged victorious have been introduced to the crowds at each and every SWAPO Party rally. People are not in SWAPO to get positions or titles. Some did not even stand and decided to dedicate themselves through other means. Finally, for those who claim that the SWAPO Party is using government facilities and relying on government funding, you witnessed the amount of money raised at several SWAPO Party fund raisers around the country.In Ongwediva N$8 million was raised, In Windhoek N$4 million was raised and in Walvis BayN$2 million was raised. This shows that we do not sleep in SWAPO. As our slogan says, Now Hard Work. We work hard 24/7/365. It is with this spirit that SWAPO entered the upcoming elections and the spirit which will lead the new Government.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura