Hifikepunye Pohamba

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Hifikepunye Pohamba
Pohamba in 2010
2nd President of Namibia
In office
21 March 2005 – 21 March 2015
Prime MinisterNahas Angula (2005–2012)
Hage Geingob (2012–2015)
Preceded bySam Nujoma
Succeeded byHage Geingob
President of SWAPO
In office
29 November 2007 – 19 April 2015
Preceded bySam Nujoma
Succeeded byHage Geingob
Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation
In office
PresidentSam Nujoma
Preceded byPendukeni Iivula-Ithana
Succeeded byJerry Ekandjo
Minister without portfolio
In office
PresidentSam Nujoma
Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources
In office
PresidentSam Nujoma
Preceded byHelmut Angula
Succeeded byAbraham Iyambo
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
Preceded byposition established
Succeeded byJerry Ekandjo
Personal details
Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba

(1935-08-18) 18 August 1935 (age 88)
Okanghudi, Ovamboland, South West Africa
(now Namibia)
Political partySWAPO
SpousePenehupifo Pohamba
and two stepchildren, Waldheim and Ndelitungapo Shiluwa
Alma materPeoples' Friendship University of Russia

Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba (born 18 August 1935) is a Namibian politician who served as the second president of Namibia from 21 March 2005 to 21 March 2015. He won the 2004 presidential election overwhelmingly as the candidate of SWAPO, and was reelected in 2009. Pohamba was the president of SWAPO from 2007 until his retirement in 2015. He is a recipient of the Ibrahim Prize.

Prior to his presidency, Pohamba served in various ministerial positions, beginning at Namibia's independence in 1990. He was Minister of Home Affairs from 1990 to 1995, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources from 1995 to 1997, Minister without portfolio from 1997 to 2000, and Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation from 2001 to 2005. He was also secretary-general of SWAPO from 1997 to 2002 and vice-president of SWAPO from 2002 to 2007.

Early life

Hifikepunye Pohamba was born on 18 August 1935 in Okanghudi, South West Africa, in an area then known as Ovamboland (today in the Ohangwena Region of Namibia). He completed his primary school education in the Anglican Holy Cross Mission school in Onamunhama, and in 1956 took up work at the Tsumeb mine.[1][2][3]

Political career

Under South African occupation

Pohamba was active in the Ovamboland People's Organization. When this national liberation movement transformed into SWAPO in 1960, Pohamba was a founding member of the organisation's new incarnation and left his job in the mine to work as a full-time organiser for the group.[1][4]

In 1961 Pohamba went into exile. He travelled to Dar es Salaam to the newly-independent Tanganyika (today part of Tanzania) where he met Sam Nujoma, later Namibia's first president, for the first time. It was resolved that he should join a group of SWAPO members returning home and mobilising people there. On his way he was arrested in Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) and was jailed in Bulawayo, then deported to Johannesburg. He spent six months in jail there and was then put under house arrest in Ovamboland.[2]

In 1964 Pohamba again left Namibia. He went to Lusaka to set up SWAPO's Zambian office. He returned to Namibia in 1966 with Sam Nujoma, claiming that SWAPO leaders were not banned from travelling. They were nevertheless deported to Zambia a day after their arrival. Pohamba moved to Dar es Salaam again.[2][5][6]

In 1971 SWAPO transferred Pohamba to Algeria; He became the movement's chief representative for northern Africa. In 1979 he became the party's chief of operations in Lusaka. From 1981 to 1982 he studied politics in the Soviet Union, and upon his return to Africa he moved to Luanda, Angola, where SWAPO's headquarters was at that time.[2][1]

After independence of Namibia

Pohamba headed SWAPO's 1989 election campaign[4] and was a SWAPO member of the Constituent Assembly, which was in place from November 1989 to March 1990,[7] before becoming a member of the National Assembly at independence in March 1990.[1] He was Minister of Home Affairs from March 1990 to 1995, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources from 1995 to 1997,[2][1] and Minister without portfolio from 1997 to March 2000.[2][8] He was elected as secretary-general of SWAPO in 1997 and as its vice-president in 2002.[5] On 26 January 2001, he was appointed as Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation in addition to his above ministerial position,[9] in which position he remained until becoming president in 2005.

Under Pohamba's leadership as Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Namibia initiated a policy of partial land expropriation from landed white farmers to landless black ones. This policy was introduced to supplement the existing one of "willing buyer-willing seller" to try speed up the process.

After becoming president, Pohamba also took over the chancellorship of the University of Namibia from Nujoma in November 2011.[10]


Pohamba with United States President George W. Bush in June 2005.

Pohamba was selected as SWAPO's candidate for the 2004 presidential election at an extraordinary party congress held in May 2004. He received 213 votes out of 526 in the first round of voting; in the second round, held on 30 May, he won with 341 votes against 167 for Hidipo Hamutenya, having received the support of nearly all of those who had backed third place candidate Nahas Angula in the first round.[11] In the presidential election, held on 15/16 November 2004, Pohamba won with 76.44% of the vote,[12] in what has been described as a "landslide", but also denounced as flawed by the opposition.[13] He was backed by Nujoma, who was then serving his third five-year term; Pohamba has been described as Nujoma's hand-picked successor.[14] Pohamba took office as president on 21 March 2005[15] and has since distinguished himself by careful but decisive moves against corruption.

Although there was speculation that Nujoma would seek re-election as SWAPO President in 2007 and then run for President of Namibia again in 2009, he denied these rumours in early October 2007, saying that he intended to step down as party leader in favour of Pohamba.[16][17] On 29 November 2007, Pohamba was elected as SWAPO President at a party congress; he was the only candidate to be nominated and no voting was deemed necessary. Nujoma said that he was "passing the torch and mantle of leadership to comrade Pohamba".[18] The congress also chose Pohamba as the party's only candidate for the 2009 presidential election.[19][20]

2004 election poster of Pohamba with ethnically diverse Namibian children.
2004 election poster with Pohamba.

Pohamba won a second term in the November 2009 presidential election, receiving 611,241 total votes (76.42%). The second place candidate, Hidipo Hamutenya (who had left SWAPO and gone into opposition), received 88,640 (11.08%).[21]

Pohamba was unable to stand for re-election in 2014 due to constitutional term limits. The election was again won overwhelmingly by SWAPO, and Pohamba was succeeded by Hage Geingob on 21 March 2015. Less than a month later, on 19 April 2015, he retired as president of SWAPO.[22]

He ended his term with high approval ratings, being hailed for pushing for gender equality and increased spending on housing and education.[23]

Private life

Pohamba is married to Penehupifo since 1983. The couple owns farm Guinaspoh #41 near Otavi.[24]


Foreign honours



  1. ^ a b c d e "Pohamba Hifikepunye Lucas". Government of Namibia. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Dierks, Klaus. "Biographies of Namibian Personalities, P". klausdierks.com. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  3. ^ "SWAPO Party and Namibian President". SWAPO. 2009. Archived from the original on 19 April 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Profile: Hifikepunye Pohamba", BBC News, 22 November 2004.
  5. ^ a b Curriculum Vitae for Pohamba Archived 24 November 2004 at the Wayback Machine, Namibian government website.
  6. ^ Christopher Saunders (3 January 2015). "Hifikepunye Pohamba". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  7. ^ List of members of the Constituent Assembly, parliament.gov.na.
  8. ^ "Nujoma names new cabinet", IRIN, 20 March 2000.
  9. ^ "President appoints ruling party secretary-general new land minister", Nampa, 26 January 2001.
  10. ^ Smit, Nico (12 October 2011). "Pohamba is Unam Chancellor". The Namibian.
  11. ^ Petros Kuteeue, ""Pohamba the winner"". Archived from the original on 13 January 2005. Retrieved 5 October 2007.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link), The Namibian, 31 May 2004.
  12. ^ "ELECTION UPDATE 2004, NAMIBIA" Archived 3 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Electoral Institute of Southern Africa report, number 3, 10 December 2004, page 9.
  13. ^ "Swapo man wins Namibia landslide", BBC News, 21 November 2004.
  14. ^ "Namibians Prepare to Vote" Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, VOA News, 14 November 2004.
  15. ^ "Namibia Swears-in New President" Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine, VOA News, 21 March 2005.
  16. ^ "Former president Nujoma to quit active politics", African Press Agency, 2 October 2007.
  17. ^ "Namibia's ex-president retires". News 23. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  18. ^ "Nujoma succeeded by Pohamba", AFP, 30 November 2007.
  19. ^ Brigitte Weidlich (3 December 2007). "A title for Nujoma, brickbats for media". The Namibian. Retrieved 4 March 2015.[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Namibia: Pohamba for 2009 polls" Archived 3 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine, News24.com, 4 December 2007.
  21. ^ Final result for Presidential election Archived 22 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine 5 December 2009
  22. ^ "Pohamba Hands Over All Power", The Namibian, 19 April 2015.
  23. ^ "Namibia's leader wins Mo Ibrahim African leadership prize". Mail & Guardian. 3 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  24. ^ Albertz, Ellen (29 November 2021). "Pensioners evicted from Pohamba's farm". The Namibian. Archived from the original on 7 December 2021. Retrieved 29 November 2021.
  25. ^ "Namibian Leader Receives Liberia's Highest Honor". Archived from the original on 28 June 2020. Retrieved 21 November 2020.
  26. ^ "The comrade Nujoma trusts like a brother", The Namibian, 24 May 2004.
  27. ^ "Pohamba receives an honorary doctorate". The Namibian. 16 May 2011. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  28. ^ "Mo Ibrahim prize: Namibia President Pohamba gets $5m award". BBC News. 2 March 2015. Retrieved 4 March 2015.

External links

Political offices
New office Minister of Home Affairs
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister of Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of Namibia
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by President of SWAPO
Succeeded by
SWAPO nominee for President of Namibia
2004, 2009