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Opinion - Why does the law not protect the sitting President?

2021-03-12  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Why does the law not protect the sitting President?

Martin Nanyemba

Do the Namibian constitution and the law legally protect a sitting President such as President Hage Geingob, when baseless suggestions of corruption without any shred of evidence are made by the freedom of expression abusers such as The Namibian newspaper’s cartoonist Dudley? The cartoonist is clearly an uncultured and disrespectful white liberal in African mores.

When a story is published on the front page of the same newspaper under the headline, “Swiss flag Sardarov’s N$21m Namandje payment”, a link is invented between how lawyer Sisa Namandje received N$21 million from a sales transaction of four farms by Rashid Sardarov, a Russian billionaire investor in Namibia, and the President’s inauguration of Namandje‘s company’s head office. 

And just beneath the cartoon, an article by the editor’s guest is published, headlined “Namibia’s Graduate Unemployment Crisis Threatens Peace and Stability”, in which talk of revolution and ‘Arab Springs’ from frustrated, angry and unemployed youths and graduate youths feature prominently; then we should be wary of the fact that there is an underlying desire in certain quarters of the media, and amongst some tribally-minded bitter politicians to incite and where possible, even to aid regime change.

However, the most insidious message of the newspaper is revealed with the depiction on page 11, where a cartoon is drawn of the President under the headline, “Unashamed looters…,” with a Pinocchio-like nose stuffed with dollars and most importantly the quotation, “Thanks Rashid, uh, as I was saying, my government takes corruption very seriously! We’ve been perfecting the art for over 30 years.”

There is nothing satirical about this cartoon, due to its positioning, context, and linkages. 

Instead, it alludes not so subtly that the President is corrupt, a liar, a looter, and somehow that he is thanking Rashid (a direct reference to the frontpage lead story of impropriety in which Rashid Sardorov’s name is cited). 

The cartoonist’s quoted message is conveying an implied suggestion that the Namibian government has become perfectly good at practising corruption over 30 years.

This blanket indictment of the Namibian government as some corrupt cabal is an affront to the thousands of hardworking men and women who have laboured pre- and post-independence, to see to it that Namibia becomes a fundamentally sound, peaceful and stable democracy.

Have there been faults? Yes, as in every democracy on earth, things have not always been perfect but to allude to the fact that the Namibian government has done nothing for 30 years but perfected corruption speaks to the deep-rooted and latent European racist ideology that has always viewed Africans as inferior, backwards and barbaric. 

Sadly, this view has been adopted by some African lackeys and Afro-pessimists who perpetuate this belief that Africans are too backward to govern themselves and are only good at looting state resources.  

In all nations, there have been individuals or groups who have committed major transgressions under the seduction of power and wealth. We may one day find out that the Fishrot accused fit this description. 

However, the desperation to link these individuals to the President and thereby directly implicate him in their dealings is preposterous. For some reason, these incidents must result in the Head of State, the entire government and Swapo Party being labelled as corrupt. It reminds one of the racist thinking that “all you black people are the same”.


Demonising and dehumanising the President

Clearly if put together, the frontpage story, the despicable cartoon, and the youth unemployment revolution story, are meant to evoke negative emotions and actions by presenting a public profile of the President as a callous, corrupt person without morals, a looter of great proportions, a liar who is not ashamed of his corrupt practices. It is the same deceitful style of innuendos and insinuations used to character assassinate the President, as was the case with the “Boss of the Bosses” headline weeks ago in the same newspaper; once again inventing a linkage without a morsel of evidence between the President and those implicated in the Fishrot corruption case. 

Of course, the purpose in both publications are with a clear ‘Namibian Spring’ in mind as the end objective, to ‘demonise’ and ‘dehumanise’ the President, as an “evil and wicked other”, and thereby incite and incense society against the President and his government. 

With their Pinocchio depictions, regime changers are schooled in the dark magic arts of media and social media manipulation and propaganda to transform a perfectly upright human being instantly overnight into a ‘demon enemy’, and to drive, through such lies and innuendos, the ignorant public and youths to crazy frenzies of social disobedience.


Whose job is it to protect the President?

In the midst of this barrage of falsities and blatant character assassination of the Head of State, one begs the question: Whose job and duty is it, when a viciously stinging attack is launched against the sitting President, by regime change proponents, to courageously, protect the President? Is the attack against the President not constituting an attack on the Namibian government? Is the President not the personification of the democratic values, norms and mores of the nation that has directly elected him as its protector? Or does it mean that when the symbols of justice, liberty and equality of the Namibian society embodied in the President is attacked, we should cowardly stand aside for the President to fend off the attacks, in his personal capacity. 

Are we saying the President should, in his personal capacity, hire lawyers to counter politically motivated onslaughts and vilifications designed to destroy government? What type of common sense, nonsense is that? The fact that the rest of us choose to be passive onlookers while our principal protector is under attack, is an indictment on our resolve and character. 

It is shameful that we have spinelessly agreed to sacrifice the President and therefore our principles as an inclusive, democratic, and brave nation.

Within the provisions of the Namibian constitution and laws, what can be done to safeguard the well-being of the sitting President, and to ensure that he is not denigrated, insulted, humiliated and delegitimised to the extent that he is magically transformed into a ‘demon/Satan enemy’ of the Namibian realm. 

A cursory look into the constitution and laws, indicates that there are no such protections. Thus, why don’t we consider embedding them to protect the dignity of the President’s Office? The point of this opinion is not to propagate for blanket protections in the presence of clear criminal evidence of wrongdoing, but against wicked and manipulative insinuations, denigrations, emotional abuse and bullying, with the sole purpose to unseat a democratically elected President through underhand undemocratic means, merely premised on political differences of opinion. 

We should be conscious that “an injury to one is an injury to all”. An attack on our President is an attack on all of us who elected him democratically. The President’s fall from power will be the voters’ and supporters’ fall from power, as well as the ruling Swapo Party.

On that day, ecofascists, tribalists, racists, and all sorts of counter-revolutionaries and extremists will reign supreme, and undo the 30 year-old Namibian House project of inclusivity, unity, freedom and peace. 

The fact that the President is regularly insulted by various youths, some of them downright delinquents and others, intellectually confused pseudo-revolutionaries, to the point of being called a dog, and nothing is done to rein in and punish these young, restless and wicked minds, is unacceptable hogwash. 

Is it because some of the ministers and officials appointed in positions of power, having the resources to stop such nonsense, lack the ability to discern the threat of the prevalent atmosphere, or because they believe that it is a normal feature of the Namibian democracy? 

 If a law needs to be promulgated, political demonstrations, the cartoonist and his newspaper need to be called out and shamed as white liberal racist bigots, or changes be made to protect sitting Presidents, which should be done now. 

Who should initiate work in this regard? The attorney-general, the minister of justice, minister of information, or the minister of safety and security? I submit that any undertaking in this regard be done by the government collective leadership and Swapo, except the President, whose subordinate leaders must demonstrate to the Namibian voters who voted him into power, their solid allegiance and camaraderie to him in action, by closing ranks around him. 


Three key defenders of the President

Unquestionably, the most important line of defence for the President is from the ranks of those loyal, tested and committed cadres whom he has chosen to be in his Cabinet including the vice-president, prime minister, deputy prime minister and all ministers. These are his gatemen and women who should not be told, why, how or when to defend their President. That should come naturally and automatically whenever he is under undue political threat. Their interests should be subordinated to the inclusivity and prosperity vision of the President. 

Apart from ensuring that they ensure that executive directors and civil servants implement 100% the President’s vision at government level, they too should be the active agents and promoters of that vision. And should not allow regionalists, tribal and racists dealings in the line of their work and appointments at staff and board level. 

It is an understatement that the prevailing public impressions are that with rare exceptions, whenever the President is insulted or unduly attacked, hardly a murmur of objection can be heard from this first line of defence. Rather some are more vocal on secondary issues of little political significance and relevancy. 

It seems we have not learned the lessons from abroad. We must be extremely wary of those people who feel that if they don’t like an individual or government, then they resort to seeking to forcefully overthrow that person or government. 

Namibia should never be held hostage by rabid and bloodthirsty tribalists and racists. 

Government leaders and Swapo’s rank and file must wake up to this reality and push back against this diabolical onslaught. The time is right for us to revisit the gallant spirit of our indomitable founding fathers of the African struggle for independence.

We are witnesses of a vestige that is being manifested by certain sections of the media and tribally motivated opponents. There is no honour in their actions, no shame, no morals and conscience. 

There is no length they won’t go to try and denigrate and delegitimise our democratically elected head of state. Therefore, let us not slumber in the stupor of affluence but wake up to this reality and ensure that we prosecute a ruthless war on these elements in defence of President Hage Geingob.

2021-03-12  Staff Reporter

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