After Hage Geingob passed away while in office on Sunday, Namibia’s Nangolo Mbumba became the temporary leader of the nation and declared he had no intention of contesting in the year-end elections.
This implies that Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who took Mbumba’s position as vice president and was put up as the party’s nominee just over a year ago by the ruling South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), would continue to be on the ballot.
If she wins, she will be the Southern African nation’s first female president.
“I am not going to be around for the elections, so don’t panic,” Mbumba said in a rare move among African leaders who have often sought to retain power once it is in their hands.”
“I aimed to be a school principal, which I achieved, and now I have to thank the Namibian people for the honour they have bestowed on me to be their president for a short period,” Mbumba said at his swearing-in ceremony.
Changes cannot be made to the SWAPO constitution once the candidate has been selected, as it is two years before the poll.
Since Namibia’s independence from South Africa in 1990, the party has been in power in this mining hotspot with abundant diamonds, uranium, and lithium—all essential for electric vehicle batteries.
After a brief fight with cancer, Geingob, who has been in office since 2015, passed away early on Sunday at the age of 82.
A presidency post on social media platform X did not give a cause of death. Still, late last month, the president said he had travelled to the US for “a two-day novel treatment for cancerous cells” after receiving a diagnosis during a routine check-up.
Geingob, born in 1941, rose to prominence as a politician even before Namibia gained its independence from South Africa in 1990, which was dominated by a white minority.
“It is poignant and reassuring to note that today, even in this time of heavy loss, our nation remains calm and stable,” Mbumba said at his swearing-in ceremony.
“This is owing to the visionary leadership … of President Geingob, who was the chief architect of the Namibian constitution.”
After a pandemic-era slowdown, Geingob leaves behind a middle-income nation striving to restore racial disparities resulting from colonialism and annexation by the previous white minority government of South Africa.
In 2022, Namibia became the first African nation to consent to supply the European Union with green hydrogen and minerals required for clean energy. He oversaw Namibia’s efforts to reposition itself as a leader of the global green economy.
Namibia started building Africa’s first decarbonized iron factory last year. It will run entirely on green hydrogen produced by electrolyzing water using renewable energy. This facility will lead the way in reforming the steel industry, one of the most polluting in the world.
Namibia is now ahead of its more industrialized and economically more significant neighbour, South Africa, whose attempts to shift to a green energy economy have yet to be stalled.