25 March 2013

Namibia: Swapo Mourns Kamehozu

SWAPO is mourning the death of yet another of its key members after Omaheke Governor Rapama Kamehozu died on Saturday afternoon.

Kamehozu, a key figure in the last congress' campaigns which saw huge splits in especially the Otjozondjupa region, died after more than a month in the Roman Catholic Hospital in Windhoek. The former mayor of Grootfontein was 63 and is survived by six children.

Minister of Presidential Affairs Albert Kawana said yesterday that the past two months have been worrying times for State House.

Kawana said they have lost leaders who "had so much to offer to the people of Namibia, especially with regards to grassroots development".

Two governors and a minister are among the four prominent politicians who have died since February this year. Three were directly appointed by the president and all were from the ruling party.

Education Minister Abraham Iyambo died in February while Grootfontein regional councillor Bromeus Bollo Matheus, Kavango Governor Nekaro and Kamehozu all died in March.

"They were in the prime of their lives. They could have done much. It's the first time that people he [President Hifikepunye Pohamba] appointed die in such a short time. It's very sad, very sad," Kawana said.

Kawana yesterday released a statement saying President Pohamba was shocked and extended his condolences to the family of the late governor.

"It is with great sadness and shock that the Office of the President wishes to inform the nation about the passing away of Rapama Rehabeam Kamehozu, governor of the Omaheke Region," the statement read.

Kawana said funeral arrangements would be announced in due course.

The news of Kamehozu's death came as a shock to the Otjozondjupa Regional Council's chairperson, Otto Ipinge, who had worked with the governor for 15 years.

"We are going to miss him a lot. He was a leader of the people and used to accommodate all sorts of people. His generosity will be missed," Ipinge said. "He was a friend, a father and a comrade."

At the end of last year, Kamehozu was transferred by President Pohamba from being the governor of Otjozondjupa to the same position in the Omaheke Region.

The mayor of Gobabis in the Omaheke Region, Sillia Bezuidenhoudt, said she will remember Kamehozu as a leader who tried to unite people.

Kamehozu had served as governor of Otjozondjupa since 2011. For most of his life he served in various political positions of the ruling party. The former mayor will also be remembered for his humility.

"People shouldn't see me as a Swapo governor. I want to work together with everyone, irrespective of their political affiliations," he said in 2011.

But he made a lot of enemies within the ruling party prior to last year's Swapo congress as he openly campaigned for the current vice president, Hage Geingob.

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