Hage Gottfried Geingob, born 3 August 1941, is the third and the current President of Namibia, in office since 21 March 2015. Geingob was the first Prime Minister of Namibia from 21 March 1990 until 28 August 2002, he served as Prime Minister again from 4 December 2012 to 21 March 2015. Since 2007, he has been Vice-President of the South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO), Namibia's ruling party, and he was Minister of Trade and Industry from 2008 to 2012.
As the Presidency in Namibia is restricted to two terms, President Hifikepunye Pohamba was due to step down in 2015, and Geingob, as SWAPO Vice-President, took his place as SWAPO's presidential candidate. In November 2014, Geingob was elected as President of Namibia by an overwhelming margin.
Geingob was born in the Grootfontein District of Namibia. He received his early education at Otavi in Namibia under the hated Bantu Education System. He joined the Augustineum Training College in 1958 where most of today's prominent political leaders of Namibia were educated. 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 Tsumeb 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.
Therefore, at the end of the school year, he left his job to seek knowledge and instruction that could help him change the system. With three of his colleagues, he walked away and hitch-hiked to Botswana to escape the system. From Botswana, he was scheduled to go to Dar es Salaam on a plane chartered by African National Congress (ANC). However, this plane was blown up by the South Africans when it was still on ground because the time bomb went off prematurely. Subsequently, the apartheid regime also tightened up the "underground railway." As a result Hage Geingob stayed on in Botswana where he was appointed Assistant South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) Representative in Botswana (1963-64).
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 for Social Research, New York in 1974.
In 1964, he was appointed SWAPO Representative at the United Nations and to the Americas. He served in this position until 1971. Those years for him were the years of crusade; crusade for freedom and independence. He traveled extensively, criss-crossing the United States, talking with people, addressing gatherings. He and his colleagues were not always successful, but they did find some converts who helped them keep the Namibian issue alive at the United Nations until the United Nations General Assembly's recognition of SWAPO as the sole and authentic representative of the people of Namibia. Namibians' struggle at the international fora, and the armed struggle launched in 1966 eventually led to the independence of Namibia in 1990.
Career as politician and educationist
In 1972, Hage 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. He, with his team, was responsible for starting this training and research Institute whose primary function was to train cadres who could take over the civil service of Namibia on independence. An important component of the Institute was also to carry out sectoral research to develop policy framework for the government of independent Namibia. Over the years, the Institute grew in stature and institutional relations were established with various institutions of higher learning in Europe, e.g., University of Warwick, University of East Anglia, and University of Sussex. These and other institutions recognized the Institute's diploma and readily admitted its graduates for further studies.
Hage Geingob held the position of the Director of the Institute until 1989. At the same time, he continued to be a member of both the Central Committee and the Politburo of SWAPO.
In 1989, he was elected by the Politburo of SWAPO to spearhead SWAPO's election campaign in Namibia. To carry out this assignment, he returned to Namibia with many of his colleagues on 18 June 1989, after 27 years' absence from the country. As SWAPO's Director of Elections, Hage Geingob along with other members of his directorate established SWAPO election centers throughout the country and spearheaded an election campaign which brought SWAPO to power 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. However, before a constitution could be formulated, he had to ensure that the Constituent Assembly went through a process of confidence building between the people who were known for their hatred of each other. Seeds of national reconciliation were thus sown at this Constituent Assembly. Subsequently, national reconciliation was to become government policy. Under his chairmanship, the Constituent Assembly unanimously adopted the Namibian Constitution on 9 February 1990. This Constitution is considered to be one of the most liberal and democratic in Africa if not the world. 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. As Prime Minister, Hage Geingob introduced modern management approaches to the running of the government.
Hage Geingob was also committed to nature conservation coupled with tourism, and in the early 1990s opened the Ongava Lodge, just south of Etosha.
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. Geingob declined to accept this lesser position, however. He had been placed ninth, with 368 votes, in the election to the Central Committee of SWAPO at the party's August 2002 congress, but on September 15, he failed to be re-elected to the SWAPO Politburo; he received 33 votes from the 83-member Central Committee, while the lowest scoring successful candidate received 35 votes.
In 2003, Hage Geingob was invited to be the Executive Secretary of the Global Coalition for Africa based in Washington, D.C. The Global Coalition for Africa is an innovative intergovernmental forum that brings together top African policymakers and their partners in the international community to build consensus on Africa's priority development issues. It is based on the premise that Africa can grow only from within but to do so it needs outside support. His focus was to work with African continental and regional organizations and Africa's development partners towards conflict resolution in Africa, promotion of good governance in African states, and integration of African economies in the global economy.
In the nomination of SWAPO parliamentary candidates by party delegates on October 2, 2004, Geingob, who was at the time still in Washington working for the Global Coalition for Africa, placed 28th out of 60. 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.
Awards and honours
In 1980, awarded the Palmes Academiques (Officer Class) by the French Government in recognition of valuable services in education.
In 1987, awarded Ongulumbashe Medal (SWAPO) for bravery and long service.
In 1994, awarded LL.D. Honoris Causa by Columbia College, Illinois.
In 1994, awarded the second highest order in Cuba, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes.
In 1994, awarded the Order of the Sun, 1st Class by the Government of Namibia for providing outstanding political leadership.
In 1995, awarded LL.D. (Doctorate of Laws) Honoris Causa by the University of Delhi, India.
In 1997, awarded LL.D. (Doctorate of Laws) Honoris Causa by the University of Namibia.
In 1998, awarded Doctorate of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) by the American University of Rome.
In 1998, elected Chairman of the 14th Meeting of Experts on the United Nations Programme in Public Administration and Finance.
In 2004, appointed member of the International Board of Governors of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) of Canada.
In 2006, was appointed as member of the Trustco Group Holdings board of directors - the biggest Namibian conglomerate to date.
Research activities and publications
Hage Geingob received his Ph.D. from the University of Leeds. His thesis was entitled "State Formation in Namibia: Promoting Democracy and Good Governance". In his thesis, he examined significant events in the process of state formation in Namibia and provided an insight into the role played by various actors involved in shaping the evolution of Namibia as a state. He also examined the efforts of Namibians to build a reconciled society out of ethnically and racially stratified, diverse and often antagonistic groups, to promote democracy and a policy of reconciliation, to improve the life condition of the previously disadvantaged groups through affirmative action, to encourage good governance, to promote a culture of human rights, and to build state institutions to support these policies. Finally, he carried out a democratic audit of Namibia.
As the Director of the Institute for Namibia and as the Chairman of the Research Coordinating Committee, Hage Geingob oversaw all research activities at the United Nations Institute for Namibia. The result of this effort resulted in twenty-two published research studies.
He was also the Chairman of the most comprehensive study ever undertaken on Namibia, viz., Namibia: Perspectives for National Reconstruction and Development, which was undertaken by the United Nations Institute for Namibia in pursuance of the mandate given to it by the United Nations General Assembly. This study covered all aspects of socio-economic reconstruction and development for independent Namibia. This study came to be known as the "Blue Bible", referring to the colour of its cover, among the researchers and planners of Namibia. Indeed, this study provided the blueprint for setting up the new government in independent Namibia.
In addition, Hage Geingob has contributed numerous articles to various publications, including monographs, periodicals and newspapers.
He has traveled extensively covering all the continents and has attended, chaired, and presented papers at numerous UN and other international conferences. He also regularly attended the General Assembly sessions from 1965-85.