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Global issue 20

Spotlight Namibia ‘This nation will always celebrate our proud history’ Hifikepunye Pohamba is about to complete his tenure as President, having served the maximum two terms allowed by the constitution. He leaves an impressive legacy of consensus building Barnaby Bayswater Outgoing President Hifikepunye Pohamba has been involved in Namibian politics since before the country even gained its modern name. The political heavyweight was one of the founders of Swapo, the rebel movement that fought a decadeslong campaign against Apartheid South Africa until Namibia finally won its independence in 1990. Once seen as playing second fiddle to former Swapo leader and President Sam Nujoma – who, even during Pohamba’s first election, was viewed as the ‘power behind the throne’ – over the past decade Pohamba has cemented his own authority and legacy in the country. Today he is known as the softly spoken consensus builder who adopted a less autocratic, more inclusive form of governance upon taking up the mantle, declaring the fight against corruption to be his administration’s main focus. While corruption has been a persistent spectre throughout his tenure – largely fuelled by the continuation of patronage among officials, despite the establishment of the somewhat ineffectual Anti-Corruption Commission – President Pohamba will be remembered for his eloquence and stature during crises. Back in 2004 Pohamba inherited a Swapo that was internally divided and a nation that was relatively stable, despite its people Pohamba inherited a Swapo that was internally divided and a nation that was relatively stable, despite its people struggling with income inequality struggling with income inequality, severe poverty and a collapsing education system. Throughout his rule, Pohamba persistently launched initiatives and projects to combat these concerns, with varying degrees of success. Both he and Swapo have long tried to solve the issue of land ownership – a legacy left over from the colonial era that left much of Namibia’s fertile farmland in the hands of a tiny white minority – and have made a considerable, if gradual, degree of progress. “We must respond with a sense of urgency so that the problems related to land reform and distribution do not become perennial,” says Pohamba. “In this regard, I am once again requesting those who own excess land to sell part of it to government for distribution to our landless citizens.” Pohamba has also focused development efforts through the implementation of a series of Namibian Development Plans (NDPs), which he has termed as “critical Curriculum Vitae 1964 Opens the Swapo offices in Lusaka, Zambia 1935 Born in Okanghudi, South West Africa (now Namibia) 1960 The Ovamboland People’s Organization, a national liberation movement, transforms into Swapo. Pohamba leaves his job at the mine to work full time as an organiser for the group 1961 Arrested on charges of political agitation, convicted by a local court in Ohangwena and publicly flogged. He makes his way to Tanganyika (now mainland Tanzania) and joins the Swapo leadership in exile 1969 Elected a member of Swapo’s Central Committee and made deputy administrative secretary Agência Brasil CC BY SA 3.0 1966 Together with Swapo president Sam Nujoma, Pohamba returns to South West Africa, only to be swiftly expelled on charges of previously leaving the territory illegally 1977 Becomes Swapo’s secretary of finance 1956 Works in the Tsumeb copper mine © Vision 2030 / CC 3.0 26 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2015 global


Global issue 20
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