Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba (born August 18, 1935) is the second President of Namibia since March 2005. He won the 2004 election overwhelmingly as the candidate of SWAPO, the ruling party, and he was re-elected in the 2009 election. He has also been the President of SWAPO since November 2007.
Prior to his Presidency, Pohamba served in various ministerial positions, beginning at Namibia's independence in 1990: he was Minister of Home Affairs from 1990 to 1995, Minister of Fisheries from 1995 to 1997, Minister without Portfolio from 1997 to 2000, and Minister of Lands from 2001 to 2005. He was also Secretary-General of SWAPO from 1997 to 2002 and Vice-President of SWAPO from 2002 to 2007.
Life and career
As a child, he was educated at an Anglican mission. At the age of 25, Pohamba was a founding member of SWAPO in 1960. He was arrested for his political activity but moved to Southern Rhodesia, whence he was deported soon afterwards. He then spent four months in prison in South West Africa before spending two years in Ovamboland under house arrest. In 1964, he went to Lusaka to set up SWAPO's Zambian office, and on his return, met the man who was later to become President, Sam Nujoma. Until the achievement of Namibian independence, Pohamba represented SWAPO across Africa, although he studied politics in the Soviet Union for a time in the early 1980s. He headed SWAPO's 1989 election campaign and was a SWAPO member of the Constituent Assembly, which was in place from November 1989 to March 1990, before becoming a member of the National Assembly at independence in March 1990. He was Minister of Home Affairs from March 1990 to 1995, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources from 1995 to 1997, and Minister without Portfolio from 1997 to March 2000. He was elected as Secretary-General of SWAPO in 1997 and as its Vice-President in 2002. On January 26, 2001, he was appointed Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, in which position he remained until becoming President in 2005.
Under Pohamba as Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Namibia initiated a policy of partial land expropriation from landed white farmers to landless black ones. This policy was introduced to supplement the existing one of "willing buyer-willing seller" to try speed up the process.
After becoming President, Pohamba also took over the chancellorship of the University of Namibia from Nujoma in November 2011.
He was active in the Ovamboland People's Organization, a national liberation movement that in 1960 transformed into SWAPO. Pohamba was a founding member of the organisation’s new incarnation and left his job in the mine to work as a full-time organiser for the group.
Pohamba returned several times to South West Africa to work on behalf of SWAPO, and he was again charged with agitating against South African rule.
Pohamba was selected as SWAPO's candidate for the 2004 presidential election at an extraordinary party congress held in May 2004. He received 213 votes out of 526 in the first round of voting; in the second round, held on May 30, he won with 341 votes against 167 for Hidipo Hamutenya, having received the support of nearly all of those who had backed third place candidate Nahas Angula in the first round. In the presidential election, held on November 15/16 2004, Pohamba won with 76.44% of the vote, in what has been described as a "landslide", but also denounced as flawed by the opposition. He was backed by Nujoma, who was then serving his third five-year term; Pohamba has been described as Nujoma's hand-picked successor. Pohamba took office as president on March 21, 2005and has since distinguished himself by careful but decisive moves against corruption.
Although there was speculation that Nujoma would seek re-election as SWAPO President in 2007 and then run for President of Namibia again in 2009, he denied these rumours in early October 2007, saying that he intended to step down as party leader in favour of Pohamba. On November 29, 2007, Pohamba was elected as SWAPO President at a party congress; he was the only candidate to be nominated and no voting was deemed necessary. Nujoma said that he was "passing the torch and mantle of leadership to comrade Pohamba".The congress also chose Pohamba as the party's only candidate for the 2009 presidential election. Pohamba won the 2009 presidential election, receiving 611,241 totals votes (76.42%). The closest candidate was Hidipo Hamutenya, who received 88,640 (11.08%).
Pohamba is a recipient of the Ongulumbashe Medal for Bravery and Long Service.