The retirement of Professor Peter Katjavivi from active government service will not only leave a luminous legacy but will also create an opportunity for his successor to build on the strong foundation he has laid in the building of Namibia as an independent country.
“However, a compatriot never retires because he can at any time be delegated to serve his country in another capacity wherever the need arises, be it in advisory or active service,” the veteran politician and current Speaker of the National Assembly said in the announcement of his retirement.
Prof Katjavivi, who is one of the co-authors of the Namibian Constitution, said that he feels that he, after decades of active service that the time for his exit has come and that the move will create an opportunity for the younger generation of leaders to fill his shoes.
“Let me make it clear that I am not retiring from serving the SWAPO Party or the country but rather creating room within party structures for others to rise to the occasion to serve,” he said.
Prof Katjavivi stressed that like most people of his generation, it was essential that he took a stand as an activist to join the struggle to liberate Namibia from the yoke of occupation and oppression.
Instrumental Key Role
During his decades of service to the country Prof Katjavivi played a key role in contributing to the development of the nation. He is well-known and visible to many Namibians.
In his retirement announcement he said that since his youth, he has been in the service of Namibia, serving in various capacities.
“All efforts were directed towards nation-building and keeping the Namibian flag soaring high,” he said.
Katjavivi noted that while in exile, he headed the SWAPO Office in London from where he helped supervise operations and actions in the international theatre.
Upon his return from exile Prof Katjavivi participated in writing the Namaibian Constitution, a document that has served as the pillar for national development. He also served as a member of the first Parliament of a newly independent Namibia.
As founding Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia (UNAM) he has prepared and trained many leaders and entrepreneurs in Namibia.
As an ambassador, Katjavivi was involved in seeking and negotiating many bilateral and multilateral development aid packages and encouraged foreign investors to come to Namibia. He named Ohorongo Cement as one of many examples.
The speaker also served as the Director-General of the Namibia Planning Commission, where he facilitated numerous developmental programmes and oversaw that nation’s Development Budget and Development Assistance.
In the Namibian Parliament while serving as Chief Whip and Speaker, he was directly engaged in oversight of the direction the country took as well as crafting and passing legislation and policies to facilitate national development.
Katjavivi said that his role as Speaker has enabled him to continue serving Namibia to the best of his abilities, adding that the position calls for tact, patience and understanding. He added that Namibia, unlike many other countries, does not use academic qualifications as a key yardstick for a person to become a member of parliament.
“Therefore, as the head of the institution of Parliament, one is required to be accommodative and respectful to all contributions irrespective of the person arguing a point during a siiting of the governing body,” he said.
He can’t go without advising on Self-indulgence and Corruption
The veteran politician urged leaders to use all resources available to them to be patriotic and diligently serve Namibia with honesty and sincerity and to do so to the best of their abilities, and respect other Namibians who could not get a chance to be leaders.
“The way you raise a child determines that person’s character when they reach adulthood. There are no golden surprises in nurturing human beings. Many of us display certain virtues in our adulthood because of how we were raised,” he said about corruption.
He further stressed that leadership is just an assignment, however, the moral fibre of a human has to go beyond the standard when one becomes a political leader.
He added that every leader is expected to diligently serve his or her country patriotically with honesty and sincerity.
“The country needs to invest more in implementation of plans, accountability, monitoring, evaluation and improvement towards perfection. Merely having beautiful strategies and policies that collect dust on shelves will not develop the country in the direction that we aspire,” Prof Katajavivi said.
To the frustrated youth
Following a question about young people losing hope and interest in the current SWAPO-led government, Katjavivi strongly advised that the youth must not use a sweeping blanket to assassinate the character of the system but rather look at personal differences in individuals. He recommended that hey must keep hope alive.
“The SWAPO Party delivered this country from the yoke of oppression and the citizens can determine for themselves what the value is that SWAPO has added to our well-being in the country,” he said.
My retirement is not shocking news
The Speaker said that his retirement is not really shocking news because everybody, be it a politician, an academic, a business investor or any other citizen in the country at large, understands that at a certain point in life, one has to move on due to the natural dynamics of prevailing circumstances.
“In life, human beings always move on to new undertakings. So, what I did was natural and there is no cause for excitement,” he said.