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Beware of engineered social unrest

29 January 2016
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We have noticed that a significant number of ‘issues’ popping up during the Geingob Administration stoke the flames of unhealthy social unrest. 

Just to be clear, we believe that reporting the facts is vital in a democracy and must continue unfettered and unabated.  That said, we cannot avoid examining how issues are being raised or question the intent of those making various points. 

After much deliberation and self-introspection, we now wonder whether there are targeted efforts to undercut President Geingob on a personal level. 

We firmly believe it is wrong to personalize the presidency.  There is excessive criticism against the sitting president which never occurred with the two previous presidents.  This is disturbing. 

Consider the AR saga that held center stage in 2015; the excessive complaints about the S&T and travel costs of the current president; the plethora of snide commentary about the president’s advisory team, the current campus protests demanding a totally free university education and threats to lay unexplained criminal charges and execute citizen arrests of sitting ministers. 

These are issues that have stoked social unrest and we wonder if there is not an undertone of unhealthy anti-Geingob ‘pot-stirring’ involved. Granted, Hage Geingob’s presidency has its own challenges, and that is to be expected, but on balance, the current president has invigorated the hopes and aspirations of the majority of Namibians.

Whether his detractors like it or not, he has the mandate of the people to enact his vision for our nation following his record-breaking 87 percent approval rating at the ballot box.

Housing and land issues in Namibia are not new.  Speeches, media coverage, civil society protests and even internationally reported commentary about land have always been with us.  AR is not the first group in 25 years that organized to demand land and housing. 

We must remember that the Geingob Administration took the bull by the horns, met with AR, established targets to be achieved and has begun aggressively moving in that direction.  So where do some of the continued criticisms about this administration’s supposed inattention to the land issue come from?   

President Geingob has attended international meetings and conferences that are important to demonstrate continuity, promote diplomatic negotiations and to maintain Namibia’s favourable international reputation.  This is a normal role of any Head of State.

And yet, the social unrest elves cast aspersions on these trips taken by the president as if they are unprecedented and have no value. 

Where were the consistent calls for the price tag for all trips taken by previous administrations?  Could this be the manifestation of the long held belief that only people from a certain tribe or cultural background are better custodians of our natural resources?

The establishment of the team of highly qualified, professional and experienced advisors working with the president is being blown out of proportion.  Having salaried advisors is not a new concept as those fomenting social unrest seem to imply.  There have always been advisors for presidents, ministers and governors over the last 25 years. Why is there a particularly divisive critique of Geingob’s advisors? 

The recent disturbances on NUST and UNAM campuses in Windhoek are more driven by NANSO and AR leaders than by the students themselves if some eyewitness accounts and online and SMS comments are to be believed. 

Complaints about the high cost of tertiary education are not something new.  It has always been the case that you cannot register for courses or sit for exams if fees are not settled. 

We wonder if those instigating demonstrations about long-standing university cost issues are not singular opportunists with an anti-Geingob agenda hijacking sincere protests by students who are seeking government support for their education.

Knowingly encouraging social unrest based on personal issues undercuts Namibia.  Perhaps the time has come for society to begin to take a critical look at the real underlying reasons why so soon in the Geingob Administration we see murky discontent and dissent hiding behind protests about critical national issues like land delivery, easy access to education, etc…

In our view, Geingob is underserved; he needs more unequivocal, committed supporters, just like he was to the two former presidents. It is completely “un-Swapo” to have people suggesting that after less than one year in office, a bid from the sitting president of the country, to be elected as president of the ruling party, should be challenged. 

These utterances are likely being perpetuated by those that harbour personal animosity toward the president or those that are still hurting from the 2012 Congress results.

All things considered, President Geingob’s policies and goals for our nation are impressive and if successfully implemented, stand the best chance of reducing poverty, creating new opportunities, strengthening democracy, promoting unity and institutionalizing the legacy of continuation.

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