The first lady drew attention online after her keynote address on Wednesday for the launch of the ‘Greater Inclusion of African Youth in Public Service’ report.

The webinar was hosted by the African Leadership Institute and the African Union Youth Convoy for International Youth Day.

“My pre-emptive response to the question I know will come is – no, I don’t have political ambitions, and I have no intention of ever standing, or accepting an appointment, for any public office,” Geingos tweeted.

Apart from addressing youth inclusion in public service, Geingos highlighted during her speech the topic of power dynamics in the political sphere, while relating it to her own experience as the first lady, and urged the youth not to weaken themselves.

Before she became first lady, Geingos was chairman of the Bank of Namibia board and also held other major executive positions in the public and private sector.

Geingos said she knows what it feels like to be “invisible”, and being in a position of power does not translate to being heard.

“I have sat on boards of leading private and public sector companies as the youngest member of the board. I know what it feels like to be invisible, to say something that gets ignored, and 10 minutes later when someone else uses different words to say exactly what I said, it is the best idea all of a sudden,” she said.

“As first lady, people tend to assume I don’t know much. I am okay with that as I am not always in the mood to talk, and it gives me time to observe people and power. It is always instructive to see how power is used by those who have it, and how people who don’t have power behave around it. It’s the most fascinating dynamic to watch,” Geingos said, adding that power is “corrosive”.

‘POLITICIANS DON’T HAVE FRIENDS’

Geingos said the worst time for a politician is the day after he has been appointed.

“ . . . because it’s the day his phone starts to ring and he’s being reminded by everybody whether he remembers how hard they worked and what positions they deserve. Don’t be that person,” she said.

One of 10 key points she made to youth leaders is to avoid taking sides when politicians butt heads, adding that if they are not careful, they would be forced to take sides.

“Politicians don’t have permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests. When they fight each other, they will include you in their fights and exclude you when they make peace. Don’t be a useful idiot,” she said.

Geingos also said she struggles to convince qualified young people to work in the public sector, because they feel there is no upward mobility, too much backstabbing, low remuneration, and that they are not always taken seriously.

The first lady said the system, however, can be changed, but “it will first try to eat you”.

Geingos said to see real reform, the youth must constantly assess themselves to determine whether they are changing the system, or whether the system is changing them.

“You need to get into the belly of the beast. The bad news is that there is indeed a price to pay to occupy the public space. The good news is you can be the change you want to see,” she said.

“Even if you obtain public office, don’t build your personality or status around it, as positions are temporary. The most bitter people are those who can’t recognise themselves when they are no longer in public office,” she said.

Furthermore, Geingos said youth inclusion will not achieve any targets without a quota system.

Youth representation must be demographically representative without sexism, tribalism or classism, she said.

The first lady drew attention online after her keynote address on Wednesday for the launch of the ‘Greater Inclusion of African Youth in Public Service’ report.

The webinar was hosted by the African Leadership Institute and the African Union Youth Convoy for International Youth Day.

“My pre-emptive response to the question I know will come is – no, I don’t have political ambitions, and I have no intention of ever standing, or accepting an appointment, for any public office,” Geingos tweeted.

Apart from addressing youth inclusion in public service, Geingos highlighted during her speech the topic of power dynamics in the political sphere, while relating it to her own experience as the first lady, and urged the youth not to weaken themselves.

Before she became first lady, Geingos was chairman of the Bank of Namibia board and also held other major executive positions in the public and private sector.

Geingos said she knows what it feels like to be “invisible”, and being in a position of power does not translate to being heard.

“I have sat on boards of leading private and public sector companies as the youngest member of the board. I know what it feels like to be invisible, to say something that gets ignored, and 10 minutes later when someone else uses different words to say exactly what I said, it is the best idea all of a sudden,” she said.

“As first lady, people tend to assume I don’t know much. I am okay with that as I am not always in the mood to talk, and it gives me time to observe people and power. It is always instructive to see how power is used by those who have it, and how people who don’t have power behave around it. It’s the most fascinating dynamic to watch,” Geingos said, adding that power is “corrosive”.

‘POLITICIANS DON’T HAVE FRIENDS’

Geingos said the worst time for a politician is the day after he has been appointed.

“ . . . because it’s the day his phone starts to ring and he’s being reminded by everybody whether he remembers how hard they worked and what positions they deserve. Don’t be that person,” she said.

One of 10 key points she made to youth leaders is to avoid taking sides when politicians butt heads, adding that if they are not careful, they would be forced to take sides.