Celebrate Iyambo's life

Opposition leader McHenry Venaani remembers the late Nickey Iyambo as a level-headed and a great thinker.

21 May 2019 | Local News

Popular Democratic Movement leader McHenry Venaani has described the late Dr Nickey Iyambo as a remarkable and dedicated leader whose life should be celebrated.

Iyambo dedicated his life to the betterment of the country, Venaani said.

“Dr Iyambo was a remarkable leader, who dedicated his entire life to the betterment of his country and its people, without fear or favour. He served people with dignity and humility.

“We lost Dr Iyambo, but his legacy lives on.

His death means Namibia is deprived of an extraordinary leader who cared for others with great determination,” he said.

Iyambo would be remembered for his level-headedness, the opposition leader said.

“I remember Dr Iyambo as a great thinker and a leader who was forever cool-headed amidst turmoil. Let us not only mourn in sadness but celebrate his life. Let us acknowledge that he ran his race and finished it with distinction,” he said. Iyambo was the first person to be appointed to the position of vice-president following the third constitutional amendments made in 2014.

He diligently oversaw the work of the veterans' affairs ministry, among other tasks assigned to him by President Hage Geingob. He retired as vice-president in February 2018 due to poor health.

He was also the country's first health minister after independence. Geingob had earlier described the late Iyambo as a loyal freedom fighter.

“Dr Iyambo leaves behind a rich legacy of loyal service to the Namibian people. The nation has lost a freedom fighter and a leader with deep humane values. Condolences to his wife and family,” the president said.

Iyambo will be given a hero's funeral next weekend on 1 June.

Iyambo was born on 20 May 1936 at Onayena in the Oshikoto Region. He joined the liberation struggle in 1960 and went into exile in 1964. He served the liberation movement in different capacities, including as Swapo representative to the Nordic countries from 1966 to 1971.

Iyambo attained a Master's degree in political science from the University of Helsinki, as well as a medical degree from the same institution. Iyambo also served as Swapo's head of military medical services, according to Graham Hopwood's Guide to Namibian Politics.

In 1990 he was handed the country's health portfolio. At the health ministry he was responsible for getting HIV/Aids awareness programmes off the ground and for setting up the national primary healthcare system. He had chaired Swapo's Aids committee in exile from 1986 to 1989.

He swapped places with Dr Libertina Amathila in September 1996, as part of President Sam Nujoma's rotation system for cabinet ministers. At the local government ministry he oversaw the development of the government's decentralisation policy, but was moved to mines and energy in 2002.

In 2005 he became the second oldest member of President Hifikepunye Pohamba's first cabinet when he was appointed as agriculture minister. In 2010, Pohamba appointed him as Namibia's first minister of veteran's affairs.


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