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Monday 21 January 2019
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100 days: Where Mbumba’s At

Since his inauguration on 12 February 2018, vice president Nangolo Mbumba has maintained a ceremonial role, as expected of any other vice president. His first three months in office have been characterised by attending national functions and standing in for the president.
While many question the role of vice president, government maintains that the vice president’s position is essential despite economic analysts cautioning that the country cannot afford a super structure government.    According to Article 32 (3A) of the 2014 constitutional amendments “in the appointment of the Vice-President, the President shall have due regard for the need to obtain a balanced reflection of the national character of the people of Namibia’”.
What exactly is Namibia’s national character? Furthermore, how is the vice president (VP) supposed to reflect this national identity?
The closest contrast that comes to mind is Kwame Nkrumah’s Pan Africanist vindication for an African identity centred on continental development and unity of all African people.
Hence it suffices to conclude that a VP reflective of the so-called Namibian character should have national development at heart coupled with an inherent desire to unite all Namibians.
Early this year, President Geingob appointed Mbumba following the voluntary resignation of former VP Nickey Iyambo due to poor health. At the time of his appointment, Mbumba allegedly stated that “the President could have chosen any other party member, but he chose me. From now on for me it is work, work and work all the way.
I will take every assignment that I will be assigned in my capacity as VP very seriously”. Looking at the personal character of Mbumba, we can all agree that he is an educated man with a MSc in Biology and a seasoned politician. During exile he served SWAPO as Deputy Director for Education and Culture as well as a principal at one of the SWAPO schools in Angola in Kwansa Sul.
After independence he was the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development (1993-1996), Finance (1996-2003), Information and Broadcasting (2003-2005) and Safety & Security (2010-2012). Whilst at Party level the highest office he occupied was that of Secretary General from 2012 to 2017.
Analysing the first 100 days of a President was first initiated in the United States of America during the Roosevelt administration.
During his first term in office the period was considered a benchmark to measure his early successes.
It is against this background that in 2015 a similar analysis was conducted on the first 100 days of President Geingob.
When reflecting on the 100 days of Mbumba it is no secret that he had a national fallout during his tenure as the SG of SWAPO in 2014. The offensive act was carried out during a SWAPO closing rally in Windhoek when he asked SWAPO members attending the rally to clap hands for the president- at the time Hifikepunye Pohamba- by disdainfully stating “omake ‘aafyoona nye’ which translates to ‘applaud you poor people’.
Mbumba later apologised in local media motivating that he was out of line and was excitedly caught up in the moment.
This was met with the outrage it fully deserved by public commentators and the media alike considering that many Namibians lived (and still do) in poverty.
The first 100 days of the VP are not much to write home about regarding the mandate of his office which is to ‘(a) serve at the pleasure of the President,  (b) deputise, assist and advise the President, in the performance of his or her duties as may be required by the President, to whom he or she shall be accountable.
It is however worth noting that his public appearances thus far rest on four pillars namely; education, international relations, agriculture and social cohesion through sports.
The VP takes his role as Chancellor of UNAM very serious because he makes it a point to attend most of the graduation ceremonies faithfully.
In his relatively short tenure as Chancellor, he has secured the naming of the medical campus after his role model President Geingob.
Considering his academic background and role in reforming the country’s education sector, we can safely conclude this is a type of “work” he seems very committed to.
For a man who appears relatively healthy, there is not much difference to be observed between what he has delivered to date in comparison to the achievements of a sickly Nickey Iyambo.
He has also not optimised the opportunity he has with a supporting spouse whereas Iyambo only got married after he vacated the VP office.
Namibians remain unclear as to how Mrs Mbumba will support the office of the first lady or whether she will set her own agenda as far as National Development is concerned.
Furthermore, the VP has taken it upon his office to visit various agricultural hubs around the country and again considering he once headed the ministry of agriculture, this visit shows that food security is a cause for concern regarding national development- one he seems keen to champion. In these three different public appearances, one can draw linkages to the VP’s past leadership roles in government and no one can contest that it is easier to work with what you know then start afresh.
Hence it appears that the focus of the VP’s 100 days was to draw lessons from his experience to best serve the President and the nation.
Mbumba’s most recent public appearance carried a redemptive tone in his attendance of the Debmarine Soccer cup final between African Stars and UNAM Football club.
The stadium was packed, Namibians both rich and poor were happy to see the VP handing over the trophy to the winning team.
Hence if we are to ask what a Namibian national character reflects, one can qualify that it is moments like this one; where leaders find a common language with the citizenry.
Sports, is an unutilised bridge to unite Namibians from all walks of life and that is why President Geingob continues to enjoy positive public ratings according to a recent IPPR Afro barometer public perception survey.
Geingob has long since utilised the platform of sports to connect to many Namibians and it is commendable that the VP is following suit.
In this regard one can only conclude that indeed “in the appointment of the Vice-President, the President had regard for the need to obtain a balanced reflection of the national character of the people of Namibia”.
Granted that Mbumba contains his excitement during public appearances, we can anticipate his first year in office to be largely ceremonial while advising and consulting various constituences and sectors.




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