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OVER TO YOU: Vice-President Nangolo Mumba (right) will be the acting head of state in Geingob’s absence. PHOTO: NAMIBIAN PRESIDENCY
OVER TO YOU: Vice-President Nangolo Mumba (right) will be the acting head of state in Geingob’s absence. PHOTO: NAMIBIAN PRESIDENCY

‘Level of transparency’ urged for Geingob’s US trip

• Well-wishes pour in for president
Lack of information about who is funding President Geingob's medical trip to the United States has birthed rumour-mongering and speculations.
STAFF REPORTER
The Presidency has been urged to reveal details around who is footing the bill for President Hage Geingob’s medical trip to the United State of America (USA), as failure to do so would only fuel speculation about the identities of funders and what they might be seeking in return.

State House announced on Wednesday that Geingob, who was diagnosed with cancer recently, “has accepted [a] medical offer by leading scientists and medical professionals in Los Angeles” to undergo novel therapy for the disease.

“The travel, medical and accommodation expenses of the president will not be incurred by the government,” a statement said, prompting questions on who would be footing the bill.

Information obtained on Flight24, an aircraft tracking website, indicated that Geingob travelled to the USA via Algeria on board a Gulfstream 5 aircraft, and not with the presidential falcon assigned to him.

The aircraft is said to have come from Qatar, but there were no details on who commissioned it – and their relations with the head of state.

Level of transparency

Political analyst Graham Hopwood, who wished Geingob a speedy recovery, said: “It would be good if the Presidency could add another level of transparency by announcing who is paying for the treatment in USA, or alternatively give a reason why such information should remain confidential”.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) executive director said the president has been transparent about key issues relating to his health over the years and should be commended for this, but must come full circle by revealing more details about the trip to America.

“It [Geingob's transparency about his illness] is a very different situation from some African countries where presidents disappear to European countries for long periods to have health issues attended to at taxpayers’ expense.”

No way

Meanwhile, academic Joseph Diescho questioned the intentions behind sponsoring the medical and travel expenses of the president.

“No self-respecting head of state of a sovereign country accepts gifts like that, just to claim that the government is not paying for the trip and hospitalisation. Qatar is an Arab country in the Middle East which expressed keen business interests in Namibia's oil, ports and phosphate resources,” he said.

Diescho added that Geingob’s benefactors would equally not willingly pay for his hospital expenses.

“There is no way that a private hospital in California would treat a foreign president from what Donald Trump calls a 's**thole African country' for free. That is not how America or Europe work,” he said.

Diescho also accused presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari of being economical with the truth in the matter.

“State House is in the habit of underestimating people's intelligence by making outlandish taxi-rank statements about the president's health and trip to America.”

Who cares?

Another commentator, who preferred to remain anonymous, said Hengari’s statement about costs was unnecessary. “Who cares about costs? The man is ill and we all sympathise,” he said.

Sweden-based political analyst Henning Melber called for calm in response to Geingob’s diagnosis, saying it was by no means a death sentence. The diagnosis would further not limit Geingob from carrying out his duties, he opined.

“There numerous examples where cancer treatment [did not get] in the way of a proper execution of duties by political office-bearers. [The speculations are] also disrespectful towards Geingob, since they fuel suspicions of a terminal illness or being seriously incapacitated to a degree which limits his execution of tasks, which has not in any way been confirmed,” he said.

Questions to Hengari the funding of the trip went unanswered.

Geingob is expected back in the country on 2 February.

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Namibian Sun 2024-04-25

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Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 326.23/OZ UP +0.43% | Copper US$ 4.51/lb UP +1.59% | Zinc US$ 2 859.90/T UP 1.9% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 87.94/BBP DOWN -0.0006 | Platinum US$ 904.61/OZ UP +0.27%