Not in my country

Geingob says no to foreign election observers

By Lovemore Ranga Mataire

Namibian President Hage Geingob has vowed not to allow foreign election observers saying his country had the capacity to organise and supervise its own democratic plebiscites.

In an exclusive interview with The Southern Times newspaper during his inaugural three-day state visit to Zimbabwe, President Geingob said calls in some quarters for the constitutionally elected South African President Jacob Zuma and President Mugabe of Zimbabwe to leave office were misplaced.

“I don’t believe in observations of elections by foreigners. You see, in Namibia we don’t need any foreigners to observe our election because only observers must be Namibians. They will be the ones who will live for that situation, not observers coming for two weeks and going to write something,” said President Geingob.

He said the last elections which elected President Mugabe into office were declared by observers as free and fair and it is important that he be allowed to see through his term just like the South African President Zuma.

President Geingob said he was an advocate of term limits and hailed the Namibian system which has both the parliamentary and presidential system of electing leaders.

He said there would have been an uproar if what happened in America where a small clique decided the fate of a whole country was to happen in Africa.

He said Africans needed to be proud of who they are and their institutions instead of always listening to outsiders.

President Geingob said there was an attempt by those who pride themselves as democratic to constantly change goal posts when it comes to African countries.

“When you see that we now believe in elections, you now raise other issues and change goalposts. I believe in transparency and elections are therefore free and fair. Let’s talk about Zimbabwean elections, they were declared free and fair and not by me but those who were here. So what’s wrong now? We condemn those sanctions.”

He said Zimbabweans, Namibians and South Africans must be allowed to do things their own way without outside interference.

He urged Zimbabweans never to compromise their principles even in the face of hardships brought about by the illegal economic sanctions imposed by the West and the United States.

President Geingob expressed confidence that Zimbabwean would overcome its challenges just as Cuba had conquered the economic blockade.

On challenges facing former liberation movements, he said governing parties that were former liberation movements were democratic and inclusive and that’s why they have continued being elected in power.

He said no one could dictate to former liberation movements how they should govern when they are constantly subjected to democratic election processes.

He said any attempts to try to corner liberation movement leaders would be met by equal force, especially when the Press is turning out to be the opposition.

President Geingob reiterated that “no Namibian should be left out” insisting that abject poverty should have been eradicated by 2025.

He said his government was creating a conducive environment so that those with the ability must prosper. He said the economic strategies to uplift the livelihoods of Namibians are contained in the Haraambe Prosperity Plan.

The President said the poverty level has been reduced from 70 percent at independence in 1990 to about 18 percent and is set to go down to about 8 percent.

President Geingob paid tribute to the people of Zimbabwe for supporting his country during the country’s liberation struggle and said no outsiders would push Namibians to turn their backs on their fellow comrades.

Meanwhile, President Geingob lived to his image as a true pan-Africanist by calling for the scrapping of inhibitive visas to promote and enhance intra-regional trade.

Officially opening the 58th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo last Friday, Geingob bemoaned low trade among SADC countries. “We must embrace regional economic development, breaking down barriers within SADC and Africa. We need to break barriers to the movement of goods in Africa. In Namibia, we have scrapped visas for all Africans holding official diplomatic passports.

“Ordinary visitors get their visas on arrival at the airport. Eventually, it will be abolished,” said President Geingob.

He paid tribute to President Mugabe for underlining the need for regional integration, value addition and beneficiation as a critical African industrialisation policy to reduce unemployment and uplift the standards of living of people in the region.

He said it was regrettable that trading patterns in the region were skewed to service the requirements of former colonial powers.

“Little or no beneficiation takes place in many of our countries and the bulk of finished goods are imported from Europe and Asia. This must change. There is not a single advanced economy in the world today that did not go through the industrialisation process.”

The President said the private sector was a critical player in the industrialisation road map and governments had to create a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

He urged the private sector to invest in his country but warned against seeking super profits as such an approach was not sustainable.

President Geingob said the good rains experienced this season in Zimbabwe gave hope for the economy to rebound.

“From what I have seen before we came here and touring the stands, particularly the agricultural sector, I must state that Zimbabwe is indeed the bread basket of SADC.  This positive outlook should bolster our hopes and encourage our business people to get ready to capitalise on the opportunity represented by this development.” He also said the Namibian economy was on the ascendance, a situation that augers well for business between the two countries.

The President said although Namibia recorded trade in goods worth $13 billion in 2017, trade between Zimbabwe and his country under the same period amounted to only $24 million. He urged Zimbabwean business to take advantages of trade opportunities in his country.

This year’s annual trade showcase, which ended last Saturday, was held under the theme” Harnessing Linkages for Industrial Development.

A total of 14 countries took part in the trade fair. Some of the countries that exhibited include Botswana, China, Ethiopia, Germany, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Turkey. Namibia had the largest exhibition space.

Namibian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Balbina Daes Pienaar said the three-day state visit by President Geingob was a huge success from beginning to end.

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