By John Ekongo
In a spirit of camaraderie, solidarity and friendship, masses of people flocked to the residence of the late John Pandeni at Nissen Lars Street in Pionierspark on Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to a man whom some described as a “political cool head”.
Political leaders, members of the public and relatives all gathered at the Pandeni family’s residence and mourners sang hymn after hymn with grief written all over their faces.
Pandeni’s death on Friday left the nation reeling in shock when the news filtered in that he had died in a horrific accident on the B8 road, between Kombat and Grootfontein.
What was more saddening is the manner in which he died, becoming the first Namibian Cabinet minister to die in a motor vehicle accident.
Mourners described Pandeni as a man of diligence and commitment.
Pandeni was instrumental in championing the decentralisation policy within Government ever since his tenure as Governor of the Khomas Region.
Congress of Democrats leader, Ben Ulenga, said Pandeni was a selfless person, with impeccable discipline, “one of the cooler heads in the party and with a very solid background”.
Last year, he was instrumental in synthesising the various ministries to attend a landmark conference on decentralisation, aimed at convincing various ministerial divisions to speed up the process of relinquishing some of their functions to regional councils.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba on Sunday said his last memories with the late Pandeni, was of 30 minutes when a relentless Pandeni requested to see the President to iron out a few issues, despite the President telling him that he had a tight schedule. Pandeni would not take no for an answer and begged that it would only take two minutes. Eventually Pohamba succumbed and they scheduled to meet at 14h30 on Thursday.
“Two minutes became 30, it was as if he was trying to tell me that you will never see me again,” the President said.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalised but a source indicated to New Era that he would be accorded a State funeral. This, however, might not materialise this weekend due to the independence celebrations, opening of the new State House and the Easter weekend celebrations.
Pandeni is survived by his parents, wife and four children.