Nobody Is Carrying Me-Geingob [interview]

IN a response to an e-mail sent to him, Prime Minister Hage Geingob tells Tileni Mongudhi about his candidacy in the national elections and the rumours and allegations which have persistently followed him since his re-election as Swapo vice president in 2012.

Are you aware of talk that there is a plot, within the party, to prevent you from becoming the party’s presidential candidate this year? What do you say to that since the party has already decided that the vice president will be the party’s presidential candidate?

The Swapo Party, at its extra-ordinary congress in December 2012, already decided that whoever emerges as the eventual victor between the three candidates vying for the office of the party vice-president would become the sole presidential candidate, and that is what has happened. In tandem, President Hifikepunye Pohamba has been touring the regions telling the people that his term is coming to an end and that they should support Hage Geingob who is the sole presidential candidate of the Swapo Party for the upcoming elections. Also, the Founding President, Cde Sam Nujoma has been informing the nation that they should make sure that Hage Geingob as Swapo’s sole presidential candidate achieves between 90 and 95% of the votes in the elections.

These two are the highest and most credible sources within the Swapo Party hierarchy, who have been publicly on record on this matter, and we trust them. Also, I know that the two candidates who competed against me, Cde Jerry Ekandjo and Cde Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana have publicly thrown their support behind me, stating that Swapo only has one candidate who is Hage Geingob.

Regarding the plot, yes, I am aware of this, and even of the newspaper witch-hunting on me. I hear some people are not happy with my election and are going around stating that I [should] not be allowed to become the president of this country. That’s their own view. I deliberately quoted the two highest political leaders within Swapo, and are really not bothered by non-credible individuals.

Of course, when it comes to my personal life, I will not be careless, but such information is not coming from credible sources. Also, don’t forget that the same rumours were being circulated about President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

We understand that President Pohamba has raised concerns about your close relationship with businesspeople, who appear to take precedence over government ministers and officials. Among those businessmen are Knowledge Katti, Desmond Amunyela and Armas Amukwiyu. Please comment?

Firstly, I don’t know there is a precedence established. I have the right to choose my friends just like any citizen of Namibia. The friendship I enjoy with whoever I choose is on a personal level. As far as the issue of the President having spoken to me about my friends or raised any concern I can say that it is not the case and these are untruths.

Coming back to the issue of precedence, it would be good to know where this alleged precedence takes place. Is it in parliament, Cabinet or is it in my private life? There were some rumours and murmurs emanating from certain quarters about the fact that some of my friends are sometimes allowed to travel as part of my convoy. I have never seen a manual that explicitly states who a leader is allowed to carry in hisher car.

I have seen presidents sit at public functions sometimes with people like Frans Indongo, a businessman, and have also seen Chief Kauluma Eliphas sitting next to the President, but nobody complained about it. How does this, therefore, become an issue?

Furthermore, I shared good friendship with the late Harold Pupkewitz, may his soul rest in peace. I also shared good friendship with the late Price, may his soul rest in peace. I have shared and still continue to share good friendship with Hamann. I have many white friends who are businesspeople but my relationship with them has never been an issue. I, therefore, hope that my relationship with the businesspeople you have mentioned is not an issue due to colour.

Lastly, Armas Amukwiyu is not a businessman. He is a young Swapo Party coordinator who worked extremely hard and played a crucial role in the elections at the last Swapo Party congress. Does such a young person not deserve recognition? Since he is a loyal Swapo cadre, does he not deserve to be my friend and my true comrade?

I have heard that some people are going around telling others that they are carrying me. In other words, acting in business transactions on my behalf. Nobody is carrying me! I challenge those who claim that they have given me money in return for favours to come out publicly and prove it. What favours? That would be corruption.

I have built up a good reputation of integrity over the years, even during the years when things were really tough for me. Yet, I have not compromised my integrity. Why would I, after so many years and especially at my age, destroy my reputation?

We also understand that Desmond Amunyela, a friend of yours, has allegedly been telling government officials that he is the only person who can aise you and that you only listen to him, hence government officials should come through him should they wish to clear something with you. Please comment?

This is a non-starter. Desmond Amunyela is not a government official, and he knows that he cannot aise me. Even those who claim that Desmond is my aisor know that. Whoever, whether in Government or from elsewhere, claim that they are my aisers, are simply claiming untruths. I reject this with the contempt it deserves.

John Nauta, from the Founding President’s Office, has allegedly been using his close ties with Amunyela and Katti to forward information from the Founding President’s Office to you – information which he is allegedly not supposed to share. What do you say to these allegations?

Utter nonsense.

What do you have to say to rumours that you have promised people positions and favours once you take over as President? What have you done about such talk if you have not sanctioned such promises?

As you are saying, these are rumours and nothing else but just mere rumours. I am a political scientist by training and would not go around promising people positions where I have no power. There is no way that a person of my background in political science and experience would do something like that. I heard that there is a list being circulated around. However, I think this is just a way by detractors to try and tarnish those people who worked very hard for my election.

These are people who worked for my election and there is no way that I am going to distance myself from them, just because of baseless rumours. However, Cabinet is not set up through rumours. It is a national process. It involves consultations by a person who is a President, and not by a candidate. How do I do it when I am not in office? This too, I reject with the contempt it deserves.

We also understand that you have voiced your unhappiness over the implementation of the 5050 gender representation on the party list, as a move to sabotage you. Have you changed your stance since President Pohamba publicly affirmed that the zebra-style party list will be implemented?

Firstly, as the vice president of the Swapo Party, I was present and participated in the extra-ordinary congress to amend the constitution. As a member of Swapo, I am bound by that. Even my personal professional outlook is that of equality and no discrimination by race, tribe or gender. It is not in my DNA to discriminate against anyone. What I said in Katutura while addressing the Swapo regional executive is that we need to look at the modalities of implementing 5050.

When I made that statement in Katutura there was no discussion on how we are going to implement it. It was only by last week that the President talked about the zebra-style, and all this time we were talking about the modalities of how this would be implemented.

However, will it solve the issue of those who will be disgruntled by the fact that they have fallen out because of 5050? Similarly, will Swapo immediately implement 5050 in the central committee or the politburo at once? No, because it is a process.

Furthermore there are other ramifications, right now we have the politburo, central committee, district and regional structures in which the representation is not 5050, and also the electoral college or the pot which is not a Swapo structure. We will need to find innovative ways of working around the implementation hurdles. I reiterate that in no way will I, as a veteran of the Swapo Party, oppose 5050, as it is a congress decision. Just like Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said in parliament, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”

Therefore let’s plan not to fail, and plan to succeed.

Source : The Namibian