Namibia mirrors stable region
This weekend, the Southern African Development Community region witnesses yet another smooth hand over of power when outgoing Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba hands over the baton to President elect, Dr Hage Geingob.
A number of SADC leaders are expected to be in attendance at the double ceremony during which Namibia will also be celebrating its Silver Jubilee Independence Anniversary having won the right to self-rule and determination from the South African apartheid regime in 1990.
President Pohamba was post-independent Namibia’s second leader after succeeding the Founding Head of State Dr Sam Nujoma in 2004. He has served at the helm of his country for the past decade and his exit once again bolsters SADC’s record as a stable region where power is transferred smoothly.
Dr Geingob and the SWAPO Party won last November’s elections convincingly and he will become Namibia’s third president since independence.
Recent elections in southern Africa have shown that the region is capable of holding elections that are in conformity with national and regional principles while meeting international and regional standards.
After successful polls in South Africa and Malawi in May last year, three other SADC Member States voted in crucial elections in October and November last year – Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia.
Two of the elections were significant in that they produced new leaders for their countries.
In both Mozambique and Namibia, the elections saw new presidents being elected, with the smooth leadership transition boosting SADC democracy credentials.
In Mozambique President Filipe Nyussi has already taken over from Armando Guebuza while Dr Geingob’s era begins this weekend after taking over from President Pohamba.
President Pohamba has during his 10-year tenure at the helm of Namibia played key roles in bringing peace and stability in fellow SADC member states faced with political upheavals, notably Lesotho and Madagascar.
The Namibian leader was instrumental with other leaders in the SADC region in ensuring Madagascar returned to democracy early last year.
Lesotho held elections last month to choose a new government, in polls held two years earlier to do away with an unworkable coalition administration. The polls followed a successful SADC-mediated dialogue, in which President Pohamba was involved, to bring the bickering coalition partners to the negotiating table.
But in the case of Namibia which has enjoyed peace and stability since independence in 1990, the SADC region can fold its hands and just join in the festivities to mark 25 years of independence in Namibia and witness yet another transition from one leader to the next.
While Mozambique is grappling with former rebel movement Renamo’s belligerent actions, the situation appears to be manageable as the differing parties, the government and the Alfonso Dhlakama-led opposition are currently engaged in talks to find a solution to their differences.
For SADC leaders it is a time to join a fellow member state and be proud of how their countries contributed to Namibia’s independence. Late this year, the SADC region will witness another transition in Tanzania where President Jakaya Kikwete is serving his final term. The process in Tanzania is largely expected to go on without hitches given the dominance of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). The actual contest will be between the CCM cadres battling to succeed President Kikwete.