President Hage Geingob expressed sadness at the news that stalwart and former MP, Hidipo Hamutenya, died yesterday at the age of 77. Hamutenya was often seen as an enigma. Quizzed about this in the past, he said, “I am a man of few words. I speak when I have to speak”. On the other hand, his friends and colleagues described him as approachable and trustworthy. Others say he is hardworking, highly intelligent, friendly and dedicated to any cause he embraced. Geingob, who described Hamutenya as a friend, said he lost a personal comrade. “Namibia also lost one of those who have contributed to the Struggle and Independence we achieved. We hope that you will now have eternal peace and rest. As we know he suffered a lot. God has seen to it, that he’s called him back,” said a visibly emotional Geingob while speaking from South Africa where he is on official duty.
Hamutenya was a member of Cabinet from independence in 1990 to 2004. He left his Cabinet position after defecting from the ruling Swapo Party to start his own party, Rally for Democracy and Progress, after losing an internal election when he contested for the party’s top seat. People from all walks of life, including former President Hifikepunye Pohamba, thronged the Hamutenya residence in Windhoek’s posh Olympia suburb to support the bereaved family while others came to pay homage to a man well-known as ‘HH’ in the political circles. According to his biography, from 1978 to 1989, he was a key member of SWAPO’s negotiating team for the UN Plan for Namibian Independence and spend over 30 years in exile. Hamutenya became a member of the Constituent Assembly and its Constitution Drafting Committee, effectively making him one of the founding fathers of Namibia. He was also the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly’s National Symbols Committee which was responsible for producing the national flag, the national coat-of-arms and the national anthem.
At independence, he became a Member of the first Parliament and the country’s first Minister of Information. Under his guidance, the then-SWABC was transformed into the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and it truly began to reflect the new dispensation in both its programming and recruitment policies. Under his leadership, the Namibian Press Agency (NAMPA) and New Era were also established.
Hamutenya leaves behind his wife, Nangula, and three sons and a daughter.