Venaani challenges ‘silent’ Geingob
DTA leader, McHenry Venaani, has lashed out at President Hage Geingob over his “inefficient administration”, and his continued silence on the state of the country’s economy.
Speaking during an exclusive interview with the Windhoek Observer this week, the official opposition president said he is worried about Geingob’s continued silence at a time when the country’s economy is in a bad state.
“I want to challenge the president to come out and tell us what is happening to the economy. He is quiet on it. What the Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, is saying (that Government is not broke) is not comfortably true. There are so many problems.
“This thing has never happened before in the country. There is a credit crunch, and there is something wrong with the economy, and they are not telling the truth at this point in time. They are hiding the truth and the president must come out and tell us what is happening to the economy,” said Venaani, amid persistent reports that Government is failing to meet its financial obligations towards its staff and service providers.
Government has stopped the construction of the Prime Minister’s Office, frozen all public tenders and recruitment in the public service as well as many other projects.
“While he (Schlettwein) says we are not broke, we are receiving six letters from the same Government saying that they cannot pay their people.
“He (Schlettwein) was explaining last week that the reason why people were not paid at the Ministry of Justice was because the requisition for money was made late and the system could not pick it up. Now we have six institutions. Now what is he telling us? Are they all late again?” Venaani quizzed.
He also questioned Geingob’s sincerity to eradicating poverty, given the president’s “extravagancy”.
It was reported last year that Geingob and his team stayed at a hotel in Paris, where a presidential suite costs up to N$350,000 per day.
“You go to France and spend a night in a hotel for N$350,000. He is probed by newspapers and he is quiet about it. Surely if you want to bring down poverty levels, you cannot be extravagant.
“You know that money could build a couple of houses for small families, and you are saying that there where options given of four hotels, and you had to choose the expensive one.
“People are quiet about it; we are going to probe it further in the National Assembly. When he comes, I am going to ask him.
“The other day, the business partner of the president (Jack Huang) brought a vessel to capture some mammals in the sea. But how was this person allowed to come into the country? I think he needs to be probed,” Venaani said.
The youthful politician, who touched on a number of subjects, further said that Geingob’s appointments in Cabinet have been very disappointing.
“There is no proof that his administration is efficient. Nickey Iyambo is a very good friend of mine and is a man who has an IQ that I respect. I respect him as an individual, but I dont respect his office. I dont respect the job that he is doing, because a vice president is a waste of our resources.
“You create ministries with two deputy ministers. How efficient are they? When we had a crisis with the removal of (Bernadus) Swartbooi, the president had to move one deputy minister from another ministry, meaning that he saw that the initial purpose of having two deputies was wrong.
“If it was critically right and necessary, he should have replaced that deputy minister with another one. The reason why he took two and left one there is because he has realised that he has made a mistake.
“There are good Government colleagues that are really trying to work for the country. But there are also colleagues, many of them, that do not even understand the trajectory required to take the country forward.
“So I would say that when you appoint a Cabinet, you must not appoint a Cabinet based on your re-election agenda, not based on your political survival, but on the quest to serve the public better. I think his appointments are very disappointing, “he said.
Venaani, whose party garnered 4,8 percent of the national vote during the 2014 general elections, said the DTA had since grown to a 10 percent party nationally, if one studies the results of the 2015 regional council and local authorities elections.
He said that the party will take advantage of the divisions in SWAPO to attract new voters, while also engaging with other opposition parties to form a “grand coalition”.
“The immediate year after we were elected (as the official opposition in 2014), we had local authority elections where the party won 10,2 percent of the vote when one looks nationally, so it was a nominal growth of nearly 5 percent. So with what we have achieved so far, all indications are proving that we are moving our numbers.
“What happens in SWAPO is their problem really. It is not my issue. But if they are divided, it is an opportunity for us. That is politics. If the DTA is divided, it is an opportunity for SWAPO. If they are divided, it is an opportunity for DTA.
“I am seeing a lot of divisions in their camps. People are fighting over who is eating more. If the politics start from looting, then the whole trajectory of the ruling party will be questioned come 2019. But one thing is very clear, this 80 percent thing (for SWAPO nationally) is over. It is not going to happen in 2019, because people are seeing what is happening in the country.
“For example, the president monumentally fails to kickstart the agricultural sector in the Zambezi and Kavango regions, where the land is arable and where the water is more. He instead goes and launches projects in Omusati, where the rain has come only lately.
“So for as long as the Government is playing the political card, as supposed to the developmental card, we will always have an advantage. So what is going to happen at the SWAPO congress later this year is their business. But their divisions are going to give us headwinds.”
Venaani, who has in the past accused President Geingob of being arrogant after he refused to engage with him, pointed out that the situation has not changed.
He said the 87 percent vote that the president won during the 2014 election had caused him to become arrogant, to the extent that he has time to meet with young boys, but not opposition party leaders.
“So he thinks that because you represent 5 percent or 6 percent why should I talk to you? He (Geingob) is playing a dual role. In public, he recognises me as the opposition leader, but he does not want to engage me.
“My role is not to be invited to State House to eat food. My job is to engage if there are problems in the country. But Hage has awfully disappointed me and we have not passed that stage. We will not ask for any appointments anymore. It is okay. In fact we are moving forward. If we have an issue we will raise it at a public platform.”
*Please read the full interview with Venaani in next week’s edition