President Hage Geingob yesterday completed his official visit to France, highlighted by his talks with French President Francois Hollande, before jetting off to Cuba where he is scheduled to deliver a speech at the funeral of that country’s former leader Fidel Castro.
Geingob is expected back in Europe on Thursday to fulfill his scheduled visit to England, where he was set to meet Queen Elizabeth II and investors.
It has been a busy schedule for Geingob, whose visits to Paris and London were confirmed well in advance before the death of Castro, revered in Namibia for his selfless contribution to the country’s independence.
Geingob, himself an ally of Castro in their personal engagements over the years, felt obliged to represent Namibia at the funeral of the father of the Cuban revolution.
Geingob left Namibia on Sunday and hit the ground running on Monday when he met with Hollande to discuss issues of mutual interest.
“Our talks have convinced me that we share the same enthusiasm and desire to strengthen our bilateral cooperation,” Geingob said yesterday, while addressing the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF) business event in Paris, moments before he jetted out to Havana, Cuba.
The President was originally scheduled to arrive in London last night, but the death of El Commandante, as Castro was affectionately known within Marxist-Leninist circles, meant he had to rethink his schedule.
Cuba sent Swapo, then a liberation movement, material support, including soldiers and weaponry, to help fight the racist apartheid regime of colonial South Africa.
And while nations that render similar support would demand favours in return, the only ‘commodity’ the Cubans left Africa with was dead bodies of their fallen soldiers.
It would, many may say, be cold, therefore, if Geingob had continued his European voyage without showing genuine interest and Namibia’s appreciation for what Cuba under Castro had contributed towards modern-day Namibia.
Speaking at the MEDEF event yesterday, the President reminded those in attendance of France’s own contribution towards Namibia’s independence, and alerted them to the fact that Namibia has since become a beacon of democracy.
He cited Namibia’s top ranking in terms of press freedom, for consecutive years, which he said was in large part due to the strong institutions Namibia has established.
“As we are faced with what we refer to as the second phase of our struggle, namely economic transformation, we would like to once again join hands with our international friends to seek solutions to the challenges we face,” he said.
“After a mere twenty-six years old, Namibia has made tremendous strides in establishing firm democratic governance architecture. Free and fair elections are regularly conducted in Namibia. So far we have had six such elections. I am already the third democratically elected president.”
Geingob, who is accompanied by a few ministers, advisors and Namibian business personalities, is expected to travel back to Namibia on Friday.
His trip to Europe is part of his drive to drum up Namibia’s relatively new focus on economic diplomacy, as the country gradually moves away from merely befriending political allies at a time when all nations strive for economic growth.