This past weekend’s tale of two presidential-level events held on the same day, hints at a story that we must analyze.
Whether the First Lady’s important event launching her long-planned One Economy programme had to be that particular night or whether the Founding President’s birthday fete had to stretch to two nights are not the issues here.
We see the main point that our Founding President as the unifier of the nation, was unnecessarily exposed to invitees who have openly insulted former President Pohamba and the current President Geingob. We are uncomfortable with this.
For us, the back-and-forth in the media and in political and social discussions around the country regarding who attended which event, is pointless without considering why the scenario happened in the first place.
It is probably prudent to start by firmly stating our point of view that both President Hage Geingob and former President Hifikepunye Pohamba hold no fault nor taint for not attending the birthday bash of the founding president for the simple reason that it was improper to have them share the same stage with the AR at a private event of the Founding President.
Those in charge of inviting guests on behalf of the Founding Father must accept full responsibility for this ill-considered move.
Once AR and other people or groups were invited publicly to the Nujoma birthday party, the atmosphere of that festive event became politically toxic, particularly when some of them posted their invitations on social media platforms with the intention to solicit divisive agendas.
It will also serve us well to be reminded by the erstwhile well-meaning invitation of Hidipo Hamutenya as guest speaker to Pohamba’s 30th wedding anniversary celebrations which ended up in an embarrassment when Hidipo chose not to acknowledge, or even recognise Nujoma’s presence in his speech.
Some have also tried to equate Nujoma’s invitation of the AR to the current president’s gloves-on treatment of AR, to the extent that Geingob occasionally had been accused of pacifying them at the expense of loyal rank-and-file citizens.
In all fairness, such comparison does not cut it. Geingob, as Head of State is bound, even obliged, to engage even the unruly AR in the interest of maintaining peace, stability and order since they have apparently made it their raison d’être to sow discontent and promote destabilization.
How can a distinguished former president and hard-working current president busy crafting his administration’s vision and mission for the nation, be so cruelly subjected to political pressure emanating from this? We feel that a dilemma was unnecessarily created by people with myopic agendas.
The open insults and stream of negative comments about the former president and the unending barbs hurled at the current administration by AR made sitting down with them, even at an event honouring the beloved Founding President, an untenable proposition.
Whichever way one looks at this conundrum, we can safely state that an unyielding AR can become a political liability to the Founding President, particularly with the threat of ‘activities’ planned for 16 June pending.
We note that AR regularly highlights its perception about the shortcomings of the former president and the current president and yet, is seemingly extremely reticent in issuing insults about ‘hand-clapping zombies’ in reviews of the administration of the Founding President who led the nation for 15 years.
In fact, Pohamba calmly steered the ship of State for two terms. His foundation-setting programmes of strong intent and purpose still hold value for the nation. And yet, AR called his 10-year administration a ‘waste of time.’
We feel that if pitting Nujoma against Pohamba is an impossible task, pitting Nujoma against Geingob is a thankless task that ought not to be tried.
For his part, Nujoma used his speech at the event to categorically dismiss those elements trying to divide the nation and renewed his trademark unity call, albeit this time in the spirit of ‘Harambee’.
This was a defining moment in his public proclamation that separated him from those divisive agents amongst the invited guests that might have sought sanctuary or sympathy around his personality, or looked up to him as a rallying point for ‘anti-Hage’ sentiments. This country has much to accomplish and needs to move forward to do it. And, we believe all three presidents know this and embrace this mission. Many of the individuals who now feel ‘left out’ by the current administration have had their moment to achieve for the country. Numerous patriotic Namibians who are no longer in government have positive track records of achievement from their time in power. This needs to be remembered, celebrated and respected as they move on in their lives, and others are given the opportunity to contribute.
But those personalities with their own baggage about the current political status quo due to feelings of being politically marginalized, need to deal with their issues individually and not use presidential level events to score cheap points.
Finally, we know that there is no political crisis in Namibia; there is no ground swell of disaffection or rebellion across the nation. President Geingob is firmly in charge as the popularly and democratically elected President of the country – Namibia is proudly peaceful and stable.
President Geingob is widely respected and people have hope in what he is doing. Programmes like Harambee and Food Banks are new ways to handle long-standing social and economic challenges. They must be supported and given a chance to bear fruit.