Presidential Council a step in the right direction
Windhoek – Namibian president-elect Dr Hage Geingob has made his intentions known that soon after his inauguration as the country’s third president next month, he is going to retain the services of his predecessors, Hifikepunye Pohamba and Sam Nujoma by co-opting them into a new presidential council.
Geingob told reporters at his office on Monday the council will comprise founding president Nujoma, and President Pohamba whose presidential term ends on March 20, as well as the former prime ministers and their deputies to advise the executive in its dealings.
Namibia will be among few countries to set up such a presidential council as one of the formal political advisory bodies to the executive, which Geingob said is essential for “camaraderie, consultation and continuity of government policy”.
“Once I assume executive state authority, I will establish by executive decision, a presidential council which will be composed of the sitting president and the two former presidents who have garnered valuable experience over the years,” he told reporters in Windhoek.
Geingob, the country’s prime minister and also deputy president of the ruling Swapo Party won the presidency in last November elections with over 86 percent, while the party won the majority seats in the National Assembly with 79 percent.
He attributed his presidential council concept to what he termed as the “New Africa” which is in contrast with a situation where many former presidents on the continent end up being persecuted by their successors.
“We are bringing the future into the present so that we are ready to face the challenges and expectations that await us,” said the premier.
“In the past former African presidents would either be exiled, imprisoned or six feet under the ground. In the new Africa, former presidents live freely and in tranquillity in their countries, enjoying respect and appreciation from their countrymen and women at the sometime playing important roles in the development of their countries.”
Political analyst Dr Andrew Niikondo commended Geingob on the establishment of the presidential council.
Though sceptical about the influence of the council on the Head of State, Niikondo noted that “it will play a very significant advising, counselling, directing and recommending role in the formulation of national policy as well as in decision making processes”.
Niikondo, the vice-rector at the Polytechnic of Namibia said vast experience possessed by the individual members of the council will be a vital instrument for the country’s socio-economic growth as both have been in political arena for many years.
“It is indeed a very significant body that will enhance the executive role in policy implementation and decision making at the same time it will also pop up the public trust due to the fact that now decisions taken have be ratified by more than one body,” he said.
Meanwhile, Geingob also announced his eight parliamentary nominees to the National Assembly, as required by the Constitution. Among them are Home Affairs Minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Jerry Ekandjo of Youth, Culture and Sports, who competed against Genigob for the Swapo Party presidential candidacy at the party elective congress in 2012.
Others are Presidential Affairs Minister Dr albert Kawana, Hardap Governor Katrina Harmse-Himarwa, Dr Bernard Shidute Haufiku, a medical practitioner; Obed Kandjoze, the Managing Director of the Namibia Petroleum Corporation; Heather Sibungo, a school teacher and former deputy Speaker of Parliament, retired Bishop Dr Zephania Kameeta.
Geingob is expected to make further crucial announcements soon after his inauguration, including the Cabinet and the vice-president, prime minister and deputy prime minister.
Following wide-ranging Constitutional amendments towards the end of last year, Namibia will for the first time in the country’s history have a vice-president, who will be appointed by the incoming president.
Pohamba bids farewell
Meanwhile, President Hifikepunye Pohamba who has been on the helm of Namibian politics for the last 10 years will hand over executive power to Geingob at a ceremony planned for March 21 at Independence Stadium in Windhoek.
Last weekend, President Pohamba bade farewell to his counterparts, when he addressed the Africa Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government on January 30, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“My interaction with the African Union dates back to the days of the founding of the Organization of African Unity. I pay tribute to the visionary founders of the OAU and reiterate our honour to its historic role and commitment to the liberation of our continent from colonial bondage.
“I bid farewell to this Assembly with fond memories of friendship and solidarity. I am firmly convinced that AU programmes aimed at accelerating the socio-economic development of our continent will bear the desired results.
“It is also my conviction that in order to achieve our continent’s development goals and objectives, African leaders must act boldly and in unity, to further consolidate peace and security; defeat terrorism; eradicate poverty; expand infrastructure development; improve food security; and modernize our education and health systems,” the Namibian leader said.
The Summit, adopted Agenda 2063, a roadmap for Africa’s development.
“I trust that, once the Calendar of Implementation for Agenda 2063 is adopted, it will be implemented without fail. Unless we commit ourselves to its full implementation, it will remain an unfulfilled dream,” he said.
“In this context, we must mobilize domestic resources, to reduce dependency on external financing of our AU programmes. Equally, we must ensure the full and equal participation and empowerment of women at all levels, in line with the theme of this year”.