Namibia continues to observe peaceful transfer of power

By Andreas Thomas

WINDHOEK – Namibia attained its independence on 21 March 1990 and over the years, it has managed to buttress its legacy as a model for democracy not only in Africa but the world over.

The Southern African country’s democracy can be mirrored through smooth transfer of power over the past 27 years.

After his three five-year terms from 1990 to 2005, Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma passed on the baton to his successor Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Pohamba, who stepped down in 2015 after 10 years in power, was succeeded by incumbent Hage Geingob.

Failure to observe the cardinal doctrine of peaceful transfer of power is a major concern to Africa’s democratic stability. Dr Nujoma was at some point widely censured after the Constitution was amended to allow him to run for a third term in 1999.

However, this liberation war hero had the blessing of the majority of the population after winning the election with a commanding 76.8 percent.

And he peacefully stepped down in 2005, to pave the way for Pohamba. During his inauguration as the country’s Third President on March 21, 2015, which also coincided with the 25th Independence anniversary, Geingob paid tribute to his predecessors, while describing Nujoma as his mentor.

“This day would not have come about without the committed leadership legacy left by those before me. Permit me to start with my mentor, Founding Father of the Nation, Comrade Sam Shafiishuuna Nujoma. He is an icon of Namibia’s struggle for Independence and a man who brought peace to a nation that was tired of war,” he said in his inaugural statement.

“This foundation was solidified by former President Hifikepunye Pohamba who from our first meeting in 1962 until today when his term ends, has walked a path destined for leadership. It came as no surprise to Namibians that he is this year’s winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for African Leadership, as the prize was confirmation of what we in Namibia already knew that our President was deserving of local and international accolade.”

President Geingob has since established a Presidential Council, an informal political advisory body to advise him on matters of national concern.

The council consists of Geingob as the chair and former presidents Nujoma and his predecessor Pohamba.

The body is part of President Geingob’s “trinity” notion and the New Africa concept.

“This is an informal arrangement that I have initiated to exemplify the New Africa. In the New Africa, coup d’états are no more. In the New Africa, our leaders are democratically elected, serve their terms and stay in their countries after their terms of office.

“In the New Africa, our retired leaders are respected as Fathers of their Nations.  That is what we are doing here, by bestowing you in the annals of history as the Fathers of this Republic of Namibia.  “Respecting our former presidents has become the norm in Africa, and Namibia is an example par excellence of the New Africa.

“It is because of this that we are here today, as first, second and third presidents in the same room.  In Namibia, your legacy continues; the legacy of, peace, stability and prosperity,” Geingob said during the first meeting of the Council at State House on August 3, 2016.

President Geingob has made a vow to his predecessors that: “I am committed to building on your legacy and I am dedicated to delivering on the prosperity promise.

Since my inauguration as Third President, I have been hard at work reigniting the spirit of ‘one Namibia, one Nation’ that the two of you personify.”

March 2017
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