As long as the fishrot former ministers remain in the high echelons of the ruling party, they bring disrepute upon Swapo. This leaves a nasty taint on the President of the party. Geingob has made much of his zero tolerance for corruption. And yet, THREE of his appointed ministers have been convicted or credibly accused of serious malfeasance. By his own words in February 2018, the president reshuffled ministers due to unspecified corruption allegations.
Geingob, duly elected for his swan song term as Head of State, must completely wash out the rot to lead this country effectively. He must add enough soap, rinse thoroughly and scrub the government and ruling party hard. Until this is done, the smell and dirt will remain as his legacy.
Former Fisheries Minister Esau is locked up and facing severe accusations. The world witnessed him asking for $100,000 for Swapo and N$70,000 for himself. He demanded that this figure be rounded up to $200,000 in a bribe to be funnelled through someone else’s account. In living colour, he states that Swapo was to receive the lion’s share of the booty.
Regardless of anything else he wanted for his greedy pocket, he mentioned the name of the party that liberated this country. ‘Swapo’ was bandied about in the same breath as he requested ill-gotten gains using national resources. Esau asked for elections support to buy caps and t-shirts and talked about how the money should be laundered. This is a disgrace and yet, the ruling party has not acted demonstrably and decisively to distance itself from this taint.
The recent statement issued by the presidency calling any reference to Geingob in the fishrot matter a “lie from start to finish” is disconcertingly weak. Further statements alluding to the fact that no one from the party had any idea of what was going on, falls short of the credibility bar in our view. We await a verbal statement from Geingob, who looks his people in the eye and condemns specifically what has happened and who is involved. We want to hear the ruling party declare this an unprecedented outrage.
That Esau and Shanghala can remain as members of leadership organs in Swapo, brings the party into disrepute. Others have been quickly expelled from Swapo for less.
The Parliament (current and incoming), Central Committee and Politburo of the ruling party contain members convicted of crimes. It now boasts the membership of two men who have wrecked the reputation of the nation. Party rules on the leadership roles for members convicted of crimes or currently under arrest and facing the dock should be updated.
The alleged actions of Esau and Shanghala along with the earlier conviction of Hanse-Himarwa, confirms the long-held perception that the Geingob administration is corrupt. At the very least, this situation has exposed the questionable judgement of Geingob to select leaders of integrity to be a part of his team.
Those complaining about the fishrot scandal cannot be brushed aside as 'anti-Geingob forces' or 'anti-Swapo people' with agendas. These accusations are hanging out for all to see. We await a court of law to have more evidence come to light. Those accused will have a proper chance to present defences. Almost inevitably, they will start pointing fingers at one another and others yet to be named, as they scramble to bargain for less jail time for themselves.
We recognize Geingob’s removal of the two accused thieves from the lame-duck Parliament and the Swapo Party List for seating in the next session. We give a nod to this, but see it as what is supposed to have happened immediately, not just when the article exposing the rot hit the headlines. We wonder if he acted only because of the public outcry and not on his own accord. Sources have noted that Geingob preferred the scandal to remain under wraps until after the elections.
While all are innocent until proven guilty, the preponderance of evidence presented thus far, in this case, cannot be denied. The accused have currently backed away from seeking bail. This is significant after their South African lawyers were found guilty of working in Namibia without a permit. We await future bail applications as time goes by.
The situation can lead people to wonder if the party asked errant former Minister Esau to make the financial ‘contribution’ request on behalf of Swapo. Geingob’s written statement this week claims no one knew anything. That is not enough. We continue to wonder if it is normal for high-ranking members of the party and government who are making deals with foreign companies and investors to request boons for Swapo. Perhaps once the humbled Esau and Shanghala have their day in court and the gravity of the jail time they face sets in, they may clarify this.
There has always been corruption in Namibia to varying degrees. But, the moniker of ‘corruption’ seems to be tattooed to the Geingob Administration. Geingob must do what it takes to change things enough to remove this tattoo.
The second Geingob Administration incoming on March 21, 2020, has many mountains to climb. Geingob and his team must better manage the debilitating drought and near economic collapse. But, removing the taint of dishonesty and corruption from his government cannot be denigrated. The Namibian people need to national confidence to fight back during these hard times. Geingob must give the people a reason to accept that this deflated Swapo government has the best interest of the country at its core.
Let the ruling party seize the high ground and demonstrate its commitment to the Namibian people. A thorough scrubbing of this nation’s halls of power is required. Nothing less will do.