“The stone that the builder refused will one day become the head corner stone”. As the first Prime Minister of an independent Namibia, Hage Geingob stood head and shoulders above his peers. Standing at more than 1.80 meters tall, his towering stature added to an aura of a dominant alpha that could at times be intimidating and maybe too self-assured as an authoritative figure who commanded respect at every occasion he graced.
It therefore came as no surprise that amongst his inner circle he was touted as the natural successor to Founding President Sam Nujoma at a time where the likes of Hifikepunye Pohamba were said to be preparing for retirement.
However the politics of succession can never be pre-empted, neither can they be scripted to suit the whims of an unsuspecting public who were in for a rude awakening when Hage was re-shuffled from the position of Prime Minister to that of Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development (a position he declined). The political maneuvering of master strategist Sam Nujoma saw the ascendance of the Late Hidipo Hamutenya to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Hage being cast into the political abyss that sent him packing to the USA as a Director at the World Bank.
“All is not fair in love and war” and Hage a man who had always been destined for greatness found himself making a slow and gradual come back to the helm of the ruling party leadership through sheer will and determination as member of the SWAPO Party Politbureau; ruling party back-bencher in the National Assembly; Chief Whip of the ruling party; Minister of Trade and Industry; SWAPO Vice-Presidency and eventually as the ruling Party candidate for President of the Republic of Namibia which he won with an overwhelming majority.
He consolidated his power and arrival by being elected as the President of SWAPO in 2017 after the retirement of Hifikepunye Pohamba who at that time had had enough of politics and was ready to truly retire thanks to a prestigious Mo Ibrahim award. He therefore seamlessly handed over his instruments of power to his chosen successor and the third President of Namibia and the SWAPO party His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob.
Without a shadow of doubt Hage Geingob has been the most revered and juxtaposedly the most undermined President of the Republic of Namibia. When he confides in the media that there are those ‘praying for Hage to fail’ it is a heart wrenching expression from a man who should be supported in all spheres of governance by those he has entrusted to execute on his behalf.
However, it is not always so and at times Hage has had to babysit a rowdy bunch of individuals who leverage his dependence on their votes to hold on to the party presidency to steer away from the set government program and engage in public controversies that bring the Presidency into disrepute.
The payment by then Attorney-General Sacky Shangala to British law Consultants at a time where the President had called for prudence in the administering of the funds of the state, the elevator debacle and the fiasco at the City of Windhoek are all examples of those who are surrounding the President bringing his name into disrepute and undermining his Presidency.
They do so willfully because they know the President is cornered and cannot act without compromising his position in the party which he has not managed to fully consolidate due to the intricacies of a functioning democracy where a president is dependent on the votes of those he appoints and their constituents in order to maintain and hold unto power.
What is ironic however is that President Geingob is living the reality of what he warned of in his PHD thesis which is ‘the danger of a President surrounding himself with sycophants who are only truly interested in their own survival and political positions’.
President Geingob has been unfairly treated by the media who have dubbed him the travelling President when those who are trained as journalists are well versed in political science and know full well the international obligations that come with the job of being a President of a republic.
What Namibians seem not to understand is the verity of openly criticizing the President and that praying for his down fall is to pray for the down fall of one’s own state because the position he holds is on behalf of the citizenry and when the ‘president sneezes the whole country catches a cold’.
It has come to surface that many of his comrades and once trusted lieutenants are already positioning themselves for the post-Hage era in Namibian politics on the premise that Hage has failed the country and bankrupted the economy and it is only them who can revive it.
This is a sad state of affairs because it has a direct impact on Namibia as a country that has set itself a political program called Vision 2030 where it would want to see itself being ranked as developed country.
Pessimists can rest assured that their prophecies regarding the government’s inability to realize this vision will most probably come to pass not because the vision is unattainable within the timeframe accorded it but because those whom the president has relied upon to execute his mandate on behalf of the state would rather he fail than succeed because it makes him look bad and it makes them look good.
His Excellency Hage Geingob is the democratically elected President of the Republic of Namibia and is a representation of what the best in us is as Namibians. When we pray for President Hage to fail, we pray for Namibia to be a failed state. Although the two are separate entities the two are synonymous and cannot be separated from one another.
Vitalio Angula is a socio-political commentator and independent columnist