6 February 2019

Namibia: I Was Born in the Ghettos - Geingob

WINDHOEK - President Hage Geingob has quashed insinuations that his attempt to eradicate shacks around the country is an electioneering ploy, saying he was born in the ghetto and has relatives who live there.

Therefore, he knows first-hand the plight of those who live in informal settlements and the urgent need for their issues to be addressed.

Geingob said this during the opening of the first decision-making Cabinet meeting at State House yesterday (Tuesday).

"What kind of eye operations do you [Geingob] have that you are only seeing these ghettos now?" Geingob said in reference to a newspaper SMS he read downplaying his concern over informal settlements.

To this, he said: "I was born in the ghettos. I am not like you guys who were born in hospitals. I was born there. I have families there. I go there. I don't have to report to you that I am going there. I go. Go and ask my security guys," he said.

"After church, I change (my clothes) and go there with private cars and I will show you pictures. Don't lecture me about ghettos. I grew up in ghettos and I was even in American ghettos. Ghetto life I know," he said.

His concerns for the masses therefore are genuine, he added.

"We talk about the ghettos and there is that joke of suspensions, reinstatement, suspension, reinstatement... (are you saying) I must look at it and say hallelujah?" he asked, referring to recent squabbles at the City of Windhoek.

The former trade minister then said Namibians are quick to ask for his intervention as president but when he intervenes, the same Namibians are equally fast to condemn him for heeding their call.

Geingob was particularly referring to his widely publicised and criticised directive to the City of Windhoek to reinstate suspended Chief Executive Officer Robert Kahimise and City Police Chief, Abraham Kanime.

Geingob argued that the reinstatement of the two would allow for the smooth operations of the municipality.

The directive was received with hostility by some professionals and politicians who opined that Geingob had no right in law or logic to direct elected municipal councillors on how to run a local authority.

On this, Geingob on Tuesday reacted: "I never told the councillors to go and reinstate. I didn't say Hage Gottfried Geingob the president is now reinstating these people. (I didn't say) Kahimise and Kanime, I am reinstating you, period. Get out! I said this game must stop - go and reinstate them."

During his lengthy address, Geingob also gave a brief lecture on how the three State organs [executive, judiciary and legislature] operate.

Earlier this year, Geingob declared shacks, in which about 900 000 Namibians live, a humanitarian crisis - which he wants to see disappear over the next five years.

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