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The two faces of Geingob

PRESIDENT Hage Geingob’s own words have come back to haunt him after promising in 2014 to ensure that pupils would not be taught under a tree, and on Tuesday proclaiming he has never seen Namibian pupils being taught under trees.

Opposition members have labelled Geingob as a man who goes against his own words and is unaccountable to the nation.

The president, while campaigning in 2014 to take over as head of state eight years ago, told a crowd at Kuisebmond Stadium that if voted into power, he would deliver.

“No child should be taught under a tree. This must be addressed during the second phase of the struggle, which is economic emancipation,” he told the rally.

Geingob at the time referred to Oshilimeya Primary School in the Oshikoto region’s Okankolo constituency, where pupils are taught outside and in makeshift wooden structures.

Now, in his second term, the president told his Cabinet he has “travelled this country and never seen this before”.

“This other thing I saw which is now prominent is children being taught under the trees. I have travelled this country, and I have never seen this before. Under the trees,” he said on Tuesday.

This is despite media reports dating back to 2012 on the nationwide lack of classrooms.

In the president’s second Harambee Prosperity Plan, he recognises a significant backlog in educational facilities, and that 5 169 additional classrooms are required countrywide, while most schools also require hostel facilities.

At the same rally, Geingob said the Swapo government has adopted a system of inclusive education to address such injustices, and spends over 20% of the national budget annually on education.

“Education is key for human capital development. That’s why we are planning to provide free education from primary up to university level,” he said.

He said more than 270 000 pupils across the country were provided free meals under the National Feeding Programme, while 100 000 pupils were being added to the beneficiaries.

Geingob’s press secretary, Alfredo Hengari, has not responded on the president’s U-turn on his 2014 promise.

Hengari was yesterday contacted via WhatsApp and email.

Dennis Shikwambi, another member of the presidential press team, was sent a WhatsApp, which he has read, but did not respond to.


Political analyst Rui Tyitende says Geingob is being dishonest.

“The president for the past eight years has been flip-flopping on a number of policy issues, and he doesn’t confront issues head on,” he says.

“But people are not blind. When people are saying Namibia has high levels of unemployment and poverty it is because there are actually people behind those statistics, no matter what he says,” he says.

Official opposition leader McHenry Venaani says the president has “obviously” made worse comments.

“The president promised Namibians prosperity, and that he is the man who will champion prosperity for Namibia. [He] engineered and doctored a number of philosophical policy postulations,” he says.

Venaani further calls the contradictory comments “political amnesia”.

“They are confronted with the wealth of the country and tenders. They don’t know what is happening in the country,” he says.

Venaani also labels Geingob as a rhetorical president who lacks tangible action.

“ . . . not a man on the ground. He has proven over the last eight years that he is just talking,” he says.

Landless People’s Movement spokesperson Lifalaza Simataa says Geingob fails to be held accountable.

“Geingob has the capability to appoint and blame someone else. It is always someone else’s fault and problem,” he says.

Simataa says Geingob’s statement is problematic and lacks due diligence – especially regarding the circumstances of teachers.


Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters parliamentarian Kalimbo Iipumbu calls Geingob confused, demanding that he apologise to the country.

“Geingob must apologise to this nation, or else a vote of no confidence should apply,” he says.

Iipumbu believes the country and particularly the education sector is in disarray because Geingob does not take action.

“He should act since he is the head. [I] don’t think ministers will resign, they are there for their stomachs,” he says.

National Unity Democratic Organisation parliamentarian Joseph Kauandenge says Geingob should have allocated enough resources a long time ago to specific areas to build more schools and to renovate existing ones.

“We have a president whose words are not matched by action, a good speaker without much substance,” he says.

Kauandenge says the president’s administration has been marked by good theory, but a lack of implementation at all levels of the government.

“So, his latest commitment to build more schools remains just that – mere spoken words – and will remain as such,” he says.

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