President Hage Geingob’s increased expenditure during the financial crisis currently plaguing Namibia has once again come under the spotlight after State House announced on Monday that the president’s security will be beefed up following a security audit.
Political analysts who spoke to the Windhoek Observer this week said the decision to increase security details around the president and to add more cars, personnel and equipment to the presidential motorcade should be seen as a sign that Geingob’s ‘lavish expenditure’ days continue despite the economic crisis facing the country.
Visiting professor at the University of Cape Town, Henning Melber, said the announcement from State House comes at the wrong time.
“I think this is strategically a bad moment. President Geingob campaigns for his election as party president with slogans that claim his popularity and his commitment to curb expenditure. At the same time, this press statement seems to indicate that more costs will be created for the public purse.
“Claiming ‘security matters’ as a reason for increasing the number of cars supposedly needed to protect the president is a smokescreen for the desire to appear even more pompous than the current motorcade already is. Who on earth would want to assassinate or physically threaten Hage Geingob?” Melber questioned.
“If taken seriously, then one could actually assume that the president is not as popular as he pretends to be and that something is seriously wrong in the state of Namibia. Is this really the message he wants to get across?”
Melber argued that the announcement from State House not only cast doubts on the country’s claimed peace and stability, but it also contrasts in a rather embarrassing manner with President Geingob’s election manifesto released recently, in which he stresses his determination for “cost-saving measures”.
“I think we have to see it as a signal that the lavish expenditure days continue despite the economic crisis, and notwithstanding the opposite promises and claims of the president,” Melber further argued.
Political analyst and deputy director at UNAM’s Centre for Professional Development and Teaching and Learning, Ndumba Kamwanyah, said Geingob’s priorities are skewed and he is sending a wrong message to the public given the significant cuts to ministry budgets.
Kamwanyah said this sends a signal that the president accepts that he is more important than the urgent needs of the people who elected him.
“This new development sends a wrong message in terms of what the Government is preaching about slashing public spending. It also runs counter to the principles of prioritisation. Is it really a priority to upgrade the president’s security?
“Why has it become an urgent priority for the Government to implement these measures now? For the sake of public transparency, the Government must explain the rationale behind the move to the nation,” Kamwanyah said.
In his view, the president does not need more than three cars as part of his motorcade.
“Namibia is a peaceful country and does not present a threat to the president’s life to warrant more than three cars. The mind boggling question is, “what prompted this sudden change in the president’s security details”?
“I think the priority here is skewed because it does not seem that the president really needs upgraded security at this time unless there is something that we are not being told.”
Academic, Joseph Diescho, echoed the other analysts’ point of view.
“He (Geingob) already lied sometime last year when he told a journalist on ‘Voice of America ‘Straight Talk Africa’ that he only travels with two cars. That was not true because he drives with more than that,” Diescho said.
Presidential Affairs Minister, Frans Kapofi, refused to disclose the number of cars that now form part of the presidential motorcade as well as the additional costs to the State.
“I don’t know the precise number of the cars, and even if I knew, I would not tell you. You see, you are asking for the impossible, nobody will give you such information really,” Kapofi said.