Just hours after announcing the death of President Hage Geingob, Namibia’s Vice President Nangolo Mbumba was swiftly sworn in as the country’s new president on Sunday.
He will be deputised by Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who had been chosen by the ruling SWAPO party as its presidential candidate for November’s planned elections.
Geingob, 82, died in the early hours of Sunday while receiving medical treatment at a hospital in Windhoek. Last month, Geingob revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer.
“I am not going to be around for the elections so don’t panic,” Mbumba said at a swiftly arranged swearing-in ceremony at state house, just 15 hours after the death of the president.
Mbumba paid tribute to Geingob, calling him the “chief architect” of Namibia’s constitution. Geingob was first elected president in 2015, but had served in top political roles since the country gained independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990.
“our nation remains calm and stable owing to the leadership of President Geingob who was the chief architect of the constitution”.
The nation had lost a “liberation… icon”.
“I take on this heavy mantle cognisant of the weight of responsibility.”
Mr Geingob was first sworn-in as president in 2015, but had served in top political positions since independence in 1990.
The exact cause of his death was not given but last month he underwent “a two-day novel treatment for cancerous cells” in the US before flying back home on 31 January, his office had said.
The tall, gravelly-voiced Geingob lived in exile for 27 years during Namibia’s fight for freedom from apartheid. He eventually returned to the country in 1989, one year before independence.
Mbumba now takes over as interim president until elections are held later in 2023. He vowed to maintain stability and continue Geingob’s legacy.
Leaders across Africa and the world offered condolences, praising Geingob’s pivotal role in Namibia’s liberation. Neighboring South African President Cyril Ramaphosa described him as “a towering veteran of Namibia’s liberation.”
Among them has been Cyril Ramaphosa, president of neighbouring South Africa, who described him as “a towering veteran of Namibia’s liberation from colonialism and apartheid”.