On the eve of the Inaugural of Hage Geingob for his second and final term as president of Namibia, there are three ‘voices’ from the public glaringly present in the national political debate about the future of the country.
There are those who want Geingob to disappear and not be president; those who will cheer when Geingob’s last term ends; and there are those who protest all negativity hurled at Geingob. In all of this noise, where is the groundswell of belief that Geingob has the innovative plans, stamina, capacity and selflessness to turn this nation around? It is missing.
The first group of voices about the future of Namibia are involved in a planned demonstration on Independence Day against the inauguration of Hage Geingob. They claim that his election is somehow illegitimate. Supreme Court rulings notwithstanding, they appear determined to demonstrate to make their point of view known. This is their right and it must not be violated. But, their unrealistic message seems to be: “Geingob must go now.” There is no belief that Geingob can do the job he has been elected to do.
There is a second group of voices. They accept that Geingob has won the election. They accept the judgement announced by Chief Justice Shivute. They have resigned themselves to five more years of Geingob. Their hope is: “At least in five years, he will be gone.” There is no belief that Geingob can meet the challenge of his second term in office.
This group does not believe that Geingob can change in the nation’s downward spiral. They complain that the president has no new ideas. The things Geingob said and did to diffuse potential clashes in 1990 and gain agreement on the constitution draft are the exact same kinds of words he says now. But, the audience is NOT the same; the problems are NOT the same; the requirements to strengthen the democracy are NOT the same. As long as Geingob remains disconnected from the Namibian people, the situation will only get worse.
Geingob offers rhetoric as a solution. The time for rhetoric has passed. A promise of a solution that diffuses a particular crisis, and yet does not deliver in the end, is merely a lie wrapped up in beautiful ribbons. Many people see it as such; they cannot be so easily fooled in today’s Namibia.
They recall the unfulfilled promises made to Affirmative Repositioning (AR) about rent control, land servicing, affordable housing and other placations. They recall the impossible promise that all Fishrot victims who lost their fishing industry jobs will immediately be employed (even when no such jobs are available). They recall a promise for zero tolerance for corruption and yet, the entire nation watched Geingob has accepted resignations from three of his appointed ministers and the reshuffle of other ministers, due to corruption related disgraces. This group will grit their teeth and endure a second Geingob Administration with no hope of change.
Then, there is the third group that fully supports Geingob. We would expand the members of this group to include people with integrity who have a sincere, but myopic commitment to the illustrious past of the Swapo Party and little vision of its future. These Geingob supporters include people who ‘see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil’ about the red, blue and green of the ruling party.
This third group screams only about the victimization of Geingob. They decry “sabotage” of the Geingob legacy. But, their conviction to tangible benefits of a Geingob second term for the poorest of Namibians is not there. It is missing.
And Geingob echoes the claims of sabotage of his presidency when he should be above entering the fray. The president should be focused on solutions to save the Namibian economy and never trade barbs with his detractors.
Each of the three group does not see the forest for the trees. Where in this discussion is the plan for reducing poverty? Out of this clash of perspectives, where is the solution to the economic disaster this country faces? Anarchy, resignation to fate and presidential glorification offer no solution for poverty reduction and employment creation in Namibia.
If there is a march against Geingob’s inauguration on March 21st and a counter-action to fill the stadium with bus groups of cheering people, ostensibly pro-Geingob, how are the people served by either of those once-off actions? It is the answer to this question that should inform all actions to salvage the economy.
People are sleeping in blankets under trees, graduates are sitting at home unemployed and destitute shack dwellers suffering Hepatitis E due to lack of hygienic conditions. God help us if Coronavirus pays us a visit. This situation cannot be sustained much longer; people are moving towards their breaking points.
The leeches on Namibian resources, must be burned off. There is no more in the trough to feed the pigs. All entitlement must be eliminated, even if it means hurting the bank accounts of well-connected white people and the nouveau riche elite and their family members and friends. Regardless of where anyone stands on Geingob’s second term, this must be the reality that informs their actions.
It is no longer about protesting Geingob or going to court repeatedly. It is about employing and educating Namibians. It cannot be that people plan to withdraw for five years during second Geingob presidency, while all hands are needed in the war against poverty. It is unacceptable to defend the president and pander to his loathing of internal dissenters, to the extent that the basic needs of the Namibian people are less important than pleasing Geingob.
Those taking whatever position vis-a-vis Hage Geingob, must prioritize the reality that people of the country are suffering. That must inform all that they do and say. Workable, immediate solutions are needed, not aimless demonstrations, apathy, or manufactured cheering crowds. Through the noise and demonstrations, President Geingob needs to show leadership and raise the Namibian flag.