South African president Cyril Ramaphosa described the late president Hage Geingob as his elder brother and a close friend.
In a brief meeting with President Nangolo Mbumba at State House on Saturday, he mentioned speaking to Geingob three days before his passing and expressed shock at the suddenness of his death.
“I also spoke to his widow, Madam Monica Geingos. This was sudden, very sudden, and that is what is making me sadder,” said Ramaphosa.
Conveying his sympathies to the Namibian nation, the South African president stated that Geingob had made significant contributions to the nation and acknowledged learning valuable lessons from him.
Ramaphosa expressed deep respect for Geingob, considering him a mentor and leader.
He then visited Geingos and the rest of the family at the late president’s private residence in Casa Rosalia on the eastern outskirts of Windhoek.
“I have learned a lot from him as my elder brother, from the way he led this country to the way he governed and the principles he adhered to,” he said while addressing the media at the residence.
Ramaphosa added that Geingob emphasised ethical leadership and relied on well-structured systems and processes.
“Those are some of the things that I learned from him because even in South Africa, we are dealing with many challenges, and I keep remembering some of the lessons that he taught me,” he indicated.
Ramaphosa mentioned being given Geingob’s thesis by the former first lady and he plans to fully immerse himself in it upon his return home.
“I am going to miss him dearly, but my condolences go out to the people of Namibia, and I want to tell them they had a good president who dedicated his life to their freedom and well-being,” he added.
Like many other leaders who have expressed similar sentiments, Ramaphosa praised the seamless power transition in the Namibian government, highlighting it as a good example for Africa.
Ramaphosa was identified by Geingob as one of his closest friends, a sentiment echoed by Geingob during a media briefing last year.
Their friendship and presidential counterparts were evident in several visits made by Ramaphosa to the country, during which the two heads of state engaged in discussions on matters of mutual interest.
The two leaders committed their respective countries to an even closer partnership, largely inspired by president Geingob’s passionate conviction about the shared future of their nations and the potential for greater opportunities and prosperity for citizens on both sides of the Orange River.
“We opened our parliament, and one of the first things I did was to have both the House of Provinces and the National Assembly honour president Geingob by observing a full minute of silence, which everyone acceded to. Former president Thabo Mbeki was also present,” said Ramaphosa.
President Mbumba mentioned that since the passing of Geingob, the nation has received massive support in many ways from its neighbouring countries.
The two heads of state pledged to maintain and further strengthen the strong bond of relations that exists between the two governments.
Ramaphosa is the second president to visit Namibia since the passing of Geingob, following Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana last week.
Rwandan first lady, Jeannette Kagame also visited the country over the weekend.
Meanwhile, during the launch of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ manifesto in South Africa on Saturday, leader Julius Malema paid tribute by observing a moment of silence and recalling how Namibia morally supported South Africa during their mourning.
“We’re paying respect to the passing of the president of Namibia, president Hage Geingob. We say to the people and government of Namibia: we are with you; we know your pain and suffering. We know what you are going through today because we went through the same when the father of the nation, Nelson Mandela, passed away,” said Malema.
He continued, “When we went through that pain, Namibia was with us, and it is our turn now to go back to Namibia and say to the people of Namibia, we are with you in this pain. We send our condolences to the former First Lady