By Toivo Ndjebela
WINDHOEK – President-elect Hage Geingob yesterday said he did not appoint any opposition member to parliament – and probably Cabinet – in the interest of democracy.
Explaining further, the incoming president said the opposition has a role to keep ruling parties on their toes in demanding transparency and swift service delivery, but that role will be compromised if opposition politicians are appointed by their ruling party opponents to positions of leadership.
Geingob was responding to media questions on why he did not appoint anyone from the opposition when he announced members of his Presidential Council as well as eight presidential appointees going to parliament.
Geingob yesterday announced that he, Founding President Sam Nujoma and President Hifikepunye Pohamba will serve on that council once Geingob assumes power next month. The country’s former prime ministers will also serve on the council when it is deemed necessary.
The president-elect announced his parliamentary nominees such as 2012 Swapo congress opponents Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Jerry Ekandjo, Albert Kawana, Obeth Kandjoze, Heather Sibungo, Bishop Zephania Kameeta and medical doctor Bernard Haufiku.
“I have a problem with the word ‘opposition’ because it makes me think people will oppose from within if they are appointed,” Geingob said rather jokingly.
But when he recovered his seriousness on the matter, the president-elect explained that opposition parties must be left to do their work instead of co-opting them into systems on the ruling party’s ticket.
“The opposition need to keep us on our toes, to keep our democracy vibrant. They must fulfil that role instead of co-opting them into the system and therefore silence them.”
Geingob reminded the nation that Swapo has in the past appointed opposition members to ministerial and other positions, which he said was crucial for reconciliation at independence.
“We’ve had ministers and deputy ministers from the opposition in the past. Swapo has proven this can be done.”
The president-elect also expressed himself on the perceived long wait before elections and the day of swearing in the winning candidate as president.
“It’s a Namibian phenomenon, but which can be changed if the people so wish,” he said.
“Elections can be held in March or slightly ealier, as long as we leave at least three weeks vacant so that if there’s any appeals in courts against the results, there is enough time to address that.”
“If people cannot wait for that long, this phenomenon can be changed. It can be revisited if people are tired of waiting, but I’m not tired.”
Geingob used the opportunity, upon curious questions from journalists, to explain that he will get married before he is inaugurated on March 21.
“There will be a first lady before March 21,” he confirmed.
New Era understands that Geingob will marry long-time partner and businesswoman Monica Kalondo on February 14.