Namibian President Hage Geingob says he must deliver. Picture: Ntswe Mokoena
Namibian President Hage Geingob, who is currently on a state visit to Zimbabwe, says he is seeking advice from his “mentor” President Robert Mugabe on how to embark on an agrarian revolution in his country.

Geingob, who officially opened the 58th Zimbabwe International Trade Fair on April 28, was speaking at a banquet held for him by Mugabe in Harare.

The Namibian leader, who has come under pressure at home from a slowing economy, revealed his country would convene a second land conference in September to discuss with white farmers who own vast tracts of land on how best to share it with the black majority.

Namibia’s economic growth rate shrank from more than 5% in 2015 to a meagre 0.1% last year. Some economists say it may stall completely in 2017.

Heingob’s government spooked foreign investors and stoked controversy in recent months for tabling a draft bill known as the National Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework which will compel all white-owned companies to cede 25% shareholding to “previously disadvantaged persons”, meaning black Namibians.

Considered a middle-income country, Namibia is richly endowed with precious minerals, although 40% of its 2.3 million people still live in shacks in one of the most unequal societies in the world.

The governing Swapo says land reform is not only necessary but also inevitable.

In Harare, President Geingob told his Zimbabwean hosts he is now under immense pressure to deliver economic empowerment to Namibians.

He said founding president Sam Nujoma brought independence, peace and reconciliation, while his predecessor Hifikepunye Pohamba continued with the legacy.

“I have to deliver the land, prosperity. It is a tall order. So, I came here to get advice because indeed I said this (President Mugabe) is my mentor. We cannot hide from this issue. We can't hide away from it. We can't hide away from the fact that some people are still left out after 27 years of independence,” said President Geingob.

The Namibian leader likened Zimbabwe’s land reform programme to a Caesarean section which, although painful, bore fruit.

“In my thesis a long time ago, I said in Zimbabwe my brothers there had a Caesarean section to deliver a baby. A Caesarean section could be very painful, but they used that and I was saying when the pain stops you will deliver a healthy baby.

“We are already seeing the signs of that. I am told you are going to have a bumper harvest this year. The signs are already beginning to show,” said Geingob.

He hailed his “mentor” President Mugabe for standing on principle and setting a remarkable example for the rest of Africa.

“It is very difficult for us, young ones, to stand and share the platform with icons of our revolution.

"I never thought that the day would come when I will become president and stand on the same floor with people who were our mentors, people whom we were admiring who were leading us, but here I am,” added Geingob.

In turn, President Mugabe urged the Namibian leader to stand resolute.

“Like our Namibian brothers and sisters, we share the conviction that, given that dear price that was paid to make us free and independent, the values for which we fought for must never be compromised.

"The enemy we defeated mutates in various forms and we should never lose our ground,” said Mugabe.

The two countries signed three memoranda of understanding in the areas of women, gender, community development, health, sport and recreation.

Foreign Bureau