© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Hage Gottfried Geingob, President of Namibia, speaks through the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
By Tim Cocks
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, 82, died in hospital early on Sunday, the presidency stated, weeks after he was recognized with cancer.
Geingob had been in command of the thinly populated and principally arid southern African nation since 2015, the yr he introduced he had survived prostate cancer.
Vice President Nangolo Mbumba takes the helm in Namibia – a mining hotspot with vital deposits of diamonds and the electrical automobile battery ingredient lithium – till presidential and parliamentary elections on the finish of the yr.
A presidency put up on social media platform X didn’t give a reason behind loss of life, however late final month the presidency stated he had travelled to the United States for “a two-day novel treatment for cancerous cells”, after being recognized following a daily medical check-up.
Born in 1941, Geingob was a distinguished politician since earlier than Namibia achieved independence from white minority-ruled South Africa in 1990.
He chaired the physique that drafted Namibia’s structure, then turned its first prime minister at independence on March 21 of that yr, a place he retained till 2002.
‘CHAINS OF INJUSTICE’
In 2007, Geingob turned vp of the governing South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO), which he had joined as an agitator for independence when Namibia was nonetheless often called South West Africa.
SWAPO has remained in energy in Namibia unchallenged since independence. The former German colony is technically an higher middle-income nation however one with large disparities in wealth.
“There were no textbooks to prepare us for accomplishing the task of development and shared prosperity after independence,” he stated in a speech to mark the day in 2018. “We needed to build a Namibia in which the chains of the injustices of the past would be broken.”
Geingob served as commerce and trade minister earlier than turning into prime minister once more in 2012.
He gained the 2014 election with 87% of the vote however solely narrowly prevented a runoff with a bit greater than half the votes in a subsequent ballot in November 2019.
That election adopted a authorities bribery scandal, during which officers have been alleged to have awarded horse mackerel quotas to Iceland’s greatest fishing agency, Samherji, in change for kickbacks, in keeping with native media stories. The resultant outcry led to the resignation of two ministers.
The following yr, Geingob lamented that Namibia’s wealth nonetheless remained concentrated within the palms of its white minority.
“Distribution is an issue, but how do we do it?” Geingob stated in a digital session at an occasion organised by worldwide organisation Horasis.
“We have a racial issue here, a historical racial divide. Now you say we must grab from the whites and give it to the Blacks, it’s not going to work,” he stated.
His feedback got here after the federal government rescinded as unworkable a coverage that will have made it necessary for white-owned companies to promote a 25% stake to Black Namibians.
Geingob died at Lady Pohamba Hospital in Windhoek, the place he was receiving therapy from his medical staff, the presidency stated.