STOCKTAKING HAGE @ 69

Hage Geingob was born on 3 August 1941 in Grootfontein District. He was the first Prime Minister of Namibia following its independence, serving from 1990 to 2002. He has been the Vice-President of the ruling SWAPO Party since 2007.

He received his early education at Otavi and joined the Augustineum Training College in 1958. In 1960, he was expelled from Augustineum for having participated in a march to protest the poor quality of education. He was, however, re-admitted and was able to finish the teacher-training course in 1961. Subsequently, he took up a teaching position at the Thumb Primary School in Central Namibia but soon discovered that his thirst for knowledge was unlikely to be quenched in Namibia. As teacher, he also hated being an unwilling instrument in perpetuating the Bantu Education System and thus began his political career as a member of SWAPO – move that saw him and two colleagues leaving the country for Botswana where he was appointed Assistant SWAPO Representative between 1963 and 1964. In 1964, Hage Geingob left for the United States to study at Temple University where he was granted a scholarship. Subsequently, he obtained a BA degree from Fordham University, New York in 1970 and an MA degree in International Relations from the Graduate Faculty of The New School, New York in 1974.

During this period he was appointed SWAPO Representative at the United Nations and to the Americas. He served in this position until 1971. In 1972, Geingob was appointed to the United Nations Secretariat as Political Affairs Officer, a position he held until 1975 when he was appointed Director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia until 1989.

The same year, he was elected by the Politburo of SWAPO to spearhead SWAPO’s election campaign in Namibia. On 21 November 1989 subsequent to the elections, he was elected Chairman of the Constituent Assembly which was responsible for formulating the Namibian Constitution.

On 21 March 1990, Hage Geingob was sworn in as the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, and on 21 March 1995, he was again sworn in as the Prime Minister of Namibia for the second term.

He served in this capacity for twelve years.

In a cabinet reshuffle on August 27, 2002, Geingob was replaced as Prime Minister by Theo-Ben Gurirab and was instead appointed Minister of Regional and Local Government and Housing, a post he turned down. In 2003, Hage Geingob was invited to be the Executive Secretary of the Global Coalition for Africa based in Washington, D.C. He then left the Global Coalition for Africa and returned to Namibia to participate in the November 2004 parliamentary election, in which he won a seat. Geingob became the Party Chief Whip of SWAPO in the National Assembly on April 18, 2007. He was brought back into the SWAPO Politburo in mid-2007, filling one of two vacancies. In November 2007, a few weeks before a party congress, the Politburo named Geingob as its sole candidate for the position of Vice-President of SWAPO. At the congress, he was accordingly elected without opposition on November 29, 2007.

This move is widely believed to mean that Geingob is intended to be the successor of Hifikepunye Pohamba as President of Namibia. Geingob was subsequently appointed as Minister of Trade and Industry on April 8, 2008.

He has several medals and awards of political and educational excellence under him, including honorary Doctorate of Laws from the universities of Delhi, India, the American University of Rome, Italy and the University of Namibia. Hage Geingob received his Ph.D. from the University of Leeds.

“All too often we (African states) are forced to sign agreements that eventually haunt us. We cannot sign an agreement just for the sake of giving in to the demands of the other side,” says Geingob, adding that signing holds serious economic and policy consequences for Namibia.

“Other negotiating configurations have not signed EPAs, yet we seem to be singled out for rebuke for not doing so. We see this in the media all the time. Is this perhaps part of the tactics of divide-and-rule, playing us off against our fellow African countries?” Geingob asks.PF