Interviews with President Hage Geingob by various leading American media houses were not paid for, but were the result of growing interest in the positive Namibian story by international media, President Hage Geingob said yesterday.
Speculation was rife in recent weeks that the first interview Geingob conducted in the United States with Voice of America was paid for. Nothing can be further from the truth, Geingob said yesterday.
He said he did not receive any payment for interviews he gave to any media outlets.
Geingob also granted interviews to Bloomberg, Reuters and The Street, amongst others, where he spoke about the vast range of opportunities that Namibia offers – especially from an investment point of view.
He also spoke at great length about his plans for Namibia, as well as the future prospects of Africa.
With regards to Namibia, Geingob told his audience the country is an ideal gateway to the 300 million people living in the SADC region, most of which is landlocked.
“There were falsehoods and lies being spread that the president was paid for appearances on TV and certain interviews,” he said.
“Nothing can be further from the truth, as no payments were made for any media appearances, nor were any payments received for any media appearances of the president on this or any other trip.”
Explaining the media hype around him, Geingob said: “The interviews by these leading US media houses came about because of the fact that our narrative as a country makes good news in a world where often very little is celebrated.”
The Head of State then reiterated efforts made during his trip to cut costs, such as opting out of the expensive Waldorf Astoria hotel, which charges around US$10 000 per night in favour of one that charges $1 100 per night.
He also emphasised that he elected not to be flown by two sets of cabin crew, as is the conventional practice. “The decision to only use one set of crew reduced the flight-related expenses on the flight crew by 50 percent compared to the past,” he said.
In the same vein, Geingob explained that officials who accompanied him – including ministers – only stayed in the U.S. for as long as they were genuinely needed.
“It means that not everyone stayed the full length of the three-week period,” he said, before dismissing allegations that some businesspeople accompanying him on the trip had their travel expenses paid for by government.
Geingob also addressed the 71st session of the UN General Assembly in New York, where many African nations propagated the need for the reform of the world body to allow for an African permanent seat on the Security Council.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was particularly outspoken on the subject and went as far as saying Africa would consider withdrawing from the UN altogether.
“He (Mugabe) is a senior and sovereign person,” Geingob said yesterday when asked if he shares the view of his 92-year-old Zimbabwean counterpart.
Geingob strongly backed the call for Africa to have permanent representation on the UN Security Council, but said any decision to withdraw from the UN would have to be preceded by due process.