The out of touch president  

20 October 2017
We are concerned that our president is out of touch and focuses too much of his time and attention on things that are not priorities for the Namibian people.
While we read front page exaggerated stories about Geingob supposedly addressing the British House of Lords, our children in schools in Omusati are being sent home hungry because there is no money for food at the hostels. 
The needs of the Namibian people are not addressed by speeches at American universities and colleges or discussions with Emmanuel Macron in France, but through well-funded programmes to address the crushing Namibian economic recession. 
We have the sense that Geingob longs to take a photo with the G-8 leaders, but never considers standing with pregnant women from rural areas who are forced to sleep outside of hospitals under tents as they await the arrival of their babies. 
We believe that for Geingob, meetings with UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, are far more desirable than meetings with the NUNW leadership that was not allowed to enter last week’s SWAPO Party Central Committee meeting. 
Our president has met with a man with no credentials just because he claimed to be a representative of US President, Donald Trump.  We heard him happily quip about Trump putting ‘Nambia’ on the map by insulting the name of our country and we have seen that he has no problem attending lunches with the controversial US president who is cheered by the same right wing political base that supported apartheid in South Africa and constructive engagement as a barrier to Namibian independence. 
And yet, he sees these kinds of international programmes of higher importance than traveling to Katima Mulilo to hear the needs of the people whose homes were razed to the ground. 
There is a disconnect here; Geingob may well be losing contact with his own people, while reaching for backslaps and photo ops with international leaders so he can feel more ‘presidential.’  Is our president so desperate for western approval and handshakes from leaders, who do not even know his name, that he is willing to put his constituency’s needs on the back burner?
We need to stay in touch with reality.  Namibia is a small state that is low on the strategic and economic significance roster of larger world powers.  While isolationism is just as bad as smiling, bowing and dancing for Europeans, every international contact at the presidential level, must yield tangible results to alleviate the poverty that causes our school children to have no food in a Government hostel.  Otherwise, what’s the point?
The so-called Geingob address to the House of Lords seems to have only been a meeting with a billionaire Middle Eastern businessman in a room that was within the building where the House of Lords meets.  Why would the British House of Lords assemble from all over the United Kingdom to hear Hage Geingob talk about Brexit?
 We are a proud and glorious nation to be sure, but we need to be honest about who we really are, and not covet unrealistic, ego-soothing roles that do not serve the Namibian people.  We do not need to be anointed and approved by western powers in order to address our own unemployment, corruption, recession, and social decay internally.
Our leader’s eyes need to focus on public bickering between Finance Minister, Calle Schlettwein, and Attorney General, Sackeus Shangala, and word battles between Public Enterprises Minister, Leon Jooste, and Works and Transport Minister, Alpheus !Naruseb.  As the head of State, he needs to determine a united way forward for his own Cabinet members to do their jobs instead of worrying about Brexit. 
Where are consistent presidential statements in support of women surviving domestic violence?  When did the president last visit the municipal building of the City of Windhoek or in Swakopmund and personally check on how many new plots have been serviced and made available to the people? 
The wild horses are dying, hippos are dying, poaching is continuing, tourists are being attacked by criminals – where is our president’s personal involvement in these areas to encourage those working on these issues, bring attention to the problem and make more money available to finance the solutions? 
The Namibian people’s needs cannot continually be side-lined by the president’s campaign for party office and his need to achieve international handshakes.
Our president is not a rock star or international celebrity; his role for the Namibian people is much more serious and substantial.  And yet, we still feel that he values a photo op with Bono of U2 or former US President, Barack Obama, and his wife, Michelle, more than being photographed with people waiting in long queues for medical care at our under-served, over-crowded rural hospitals (unless of course, there is a rally for his SWAPO candidacy being held and they are waving to him).
Once again, we call on our elected leaders to lead.  The people are nervous, uncertain, and worried about money, municipal bills, education, healthcare, debts, rising food prices and their jobs.  These are the realities that require the full focus of the president. 
Brexit, Trump’s blunders, and international issues will happen with or without Geingob’s presence or speeches.  But ensuring that learners in hostels always have enough food is something Geingob can do, right here and right now.  What is he waiting for?


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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