President Hage Geingob yesterday lectured governors on the importance of using the country’s official language when addressing the nation. Geingob hosted 13 of the 14 regional governors at State House yesterday. Zambezi governor Alufeu Sampofu did not attend, as he is in Botswana on official business.
Geingob reminded the governors they were appointed to represent not only him but the office of the presidency. During the open part of the meeting, before it became a closed-door one, Geingob congratulated them on their successful state of the region addresses (SORA) but he was of the opinion that “we hate English”.
“When television is there, we are all watching you. You are my governor. You are speaking in Otjiherero or Nama or so on... Who are you addressing? Who are you representing? This office? This government? Without speaking the official language?” said Geingob.
“You can speak any language but a governor addressing people must speak English,” he said. He said, even though governers do so believing some people will feel left out – as leaders, one should choose a language that does not isolate others deliberately.
He said governors are not being stopped from using vernacular languages but rather being advised to use the official language first, which can be translated to vernaculars for everyone who is there to understand. “Some old people don’t understand English, so you have to help. That’s understandable but officially, you are representing all of us; we are watching you.”
“You are a leader. It’s true, in your areas, one language is spoken but you are a leader of this office,” Geingob added. He said governors were appointed to be closer to people, to be the eyes and ears of the President and not a petitioner.
“Some of you act like you are petitioners; you think you a representing your tribe there. Maybe we are going to change by not appointing you where you come from,” said Geingob.
Governors complained they are operating with insufficient human resources, with vacancies in their staff structures not filled, which hinder their performance. They also requested an increase in their operational budget from the current N$100 000 to “at least N$200 000”.
“We wanted to bring it to the attention of the President that we are operating on a skeleton [structures]. Our staff structure, for example, consists of an accountant, a deputy director and an administrator, who are not employed,” said Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua, who spoke on behalf of the group. She further noted that should these positions be filled, their operation would be smooth.