President Hage Geingob has come under fierce fire for not using his platform at the African Union summit in South Africa to deliver his speech and make Namibia’s position on continental matters clear.
Geingob was expected to speak at the summit on Sunday and his well-crafted speech was sent to the media ahead of time.
However, after introducing himself he told the gathering of Heads of State that he didn’t want to dilute AU chairman and Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe’s contribution he had made earlier.
Geingob explained on his Facebook wall yesterday that he chose not to deliver his address, because the meeting was already running behind schedule and speakers were required to deliver their statements within a specified time limit.
He said this would not have allowed him ample time to highlight the substantial topics contained in his statement.
DTA leader McHenry Venaani described Geingob as someone “who does not need a speech” to make a valuable contribution.
“With his experience, he could have spoken off-the-cuff and concentrated on five important points in his speech,” Venaani said.
“This was a missed opportunity for Geingob to make a new entry into the AU fray.”
“We all believe he can play a bigger role in Africa.”
Venaani stressed that Geingob could have expanded on his remarks about the International Criminal Court (ICC) without reading from a speech.
In his prepared speech, Geingob had lambasted the ICC for interfering in Kenya’s domestic affairs, while saying that no country or institution should tell Africans who should govern them.
Even though Geingob’s comments dealt with the ICC charging Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, it also coincided for calls by the ICC for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to be arrested at the AU summit.
“Announcing that he is the new president of the country was not good enough. He could have said a lot off-the-cuff,” Venaani said.
Nudo’s Secretary-General, Meundju Jahanika, said Geingob not delivering his speech had been embarrassment for the country, and added that the President should have improvised.
“This was his opportunity to make a mark for Namibia and it would have been his insight into his international relations,” said Jahanika.
“He missed the opportunity to tell Africa and the world about his agenda and vision for the continent. When you get such an opportunity, whether it is three or five minutes, you capitalise on it.”
“We wanted to hear those things on the stage, but even for those of us who were not at the summit, we are disappointed.”
Political commentator Phanuel Kaapama said this was Geingob’s first AU meeting as President, and the platform would have been an ideal opportunity for him to have spoken.
“I did not expect that. Even when Mugabe spoke, he did so in his own capacity as president of Zimbabwe, so it was important for him (Geingob) to have spoken as the President of the Republic of Namibia,” Kaapama stressed.
“When you go there, you do it on behalf of the people of Namibia. This was a very important summit to make clear Namibia’s positions on various issues.”
WINDHOEK ELVIS MURARANGANDA