Namibian President Hage Geingob, 82, dies after cancer diagnosis From Reuters

©Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Hage Gottfried Geingob, President of Namibia, speaks during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 2, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

By Tim Cocks

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Namibian President Hage Geingob, 82, died in hospital early on Sunday morning, the presidency said, weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

Geingob had been in charge of the sparsely populated and mostly arid southern African country since 2015, the year he announced he had survived prostate cancer.

Vice President Nangolo Mbumba will take the helm of Namibia – a mining hotspot with major deposits of diamonds and lithium, an ingredient in electric car batteries – until presidential and parliamentary elections later this year.

A post by the presidency on the social media platform that he had been diagnosed with the disease following a regular medical examination. verify.

Born in 1941, Geingob was a prominent politician even before Namibia gained independence from white-minority-ruled South Africa in 1990.

He chaired the body that drafted Namibia’s constitution, then became its first prime minister upon independence on 21 March of that year, a position he held until 2002.


In 2007, Geingob became vice-president of the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO), which he had joined as an independence agitator when Namibia was still known as South West Africa.

SWAPO has remained unchallenged in power in Namibia since independence. The former German colony is technically an upper-middle income country but with huge wealth disparities.

“There were no textbooks to prepare us to carry out the task of development and shared prosperity after independence,” he said in a speech to mark the day in 2018. “We needed to build a Namibia where chains of past injustices would be broken.”

Geingob served as minister of trade and industry before becoming prime minister again in 2012.

He won the 2014 election with 87% of the vote, but narrowly avoided a runoff with just over half the vote in a subsequent November 2019 poll.

That election followed a government corruption scandal, in which officials allegedly awarded horse mackerel quotas to Iceland’s largest fishing company, Samherji, in exchange for bribes, local media reported. The resulting protest led to the resignation of two ministers.

The following year, Geingob complained that Namibia’s wealth still remained concentrated in the hands of the white minority.

“Distribution is a problem, but how do you do it?” Geingob said in a virtual session at an event organized by the international organization Horasis.

“We have a racial issue here, a historic racial divide. Now you say we have to take from the whites and give it to the blacks, that’s not going to work,” he said.

His comments came after the government revoked as unworkable a policy that would have made it mandatory for white-owned businesses to sell a 25% stake to black Namibians.

Geingob died at Lady Pohamba Hospital in Windhoek, where he was receiving care from his medical team, the presidency said.

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