Renowned author Chinua Achebe, in the offering 'Arrow of God', part of his tapestry of the African Trilogy, said:
“If my enemy speaks the truth, I will not say because it is spoken by my enemy I will not listen.”
One needs to dissect and comprehend the statement and its relevance to the contemporary African society as to best describe our socio-political interactions with each other, on any level.
Achebe is drawing in the sand the epitome of an unwanted epiphany that great wisdom, strength, purpose and understanding can also be derived from the wells and boreholes of someone considered a nemesis.
His (Achebe’s) words are true to the status quo in which we find ourselves as Africans and especially Namibians, in which we exist in an ecosystem where leaders are expected to only do wrong, are hungry, thieves, corrupt and not fit for office, ultimately christening them enemies of the citizens and of the State.
Deliberately, there is a subtle movement of always fault-finding, shaming, blaming and accusing leaders for anything and everything that is displeasing to us, due the battle lines which we have drawn between us and them. We have made it our paramount duty to ensure that no good work, progress and productivity is attributed to leaders but only the bad, the ugly and the disastrous, albeit misattributed, because they are our enemies.
One will not downplay the creed of African leaders that have of course found themselves guilty of many ills. However, it is questionable when we apportion wrongdoing to the wrong person, knowingly and for whatever reasons and agenda known to us.
Recently, President Hage Geingob was mistakenly (let us believe that for now) drawn into the extension of employment contracts of executive directors, while the Public Service Act 13 of 1995 clearly states that such appointments are done by the prime minister, who through the Secretary to Cabinet recommends such to the Public Service Commission for further and final processing.
The bone of contention is the extension of employment contracts of some executive directors beyond their retirement age, of which President Geingob is being “wrongly” accused of having had a hand in.
As to truly understand what Achebe was referring to, the hatred for President Geingob blinded these speculators from reading the provisions of the same Act, which indicates that if it is in the interest of the public service, the prime minister may retain any staff member in employment beyond their age of retirement!
Let us assume that the authors of these accusations did not have access to the publicly-available Public Service Act to educate themselves. However, this is not the first time that the misplaced classification of President Geingob as an enemy of the people (for political and tribal expediencies) has played out in the public court, as a futile attempt to discredit the person and leadership of the President.
However, as a true leader who runs on a card of transparency and accountability, the President has on countless occasions been exonerated by the truth, be it the SME Bank saga, the so-called Fishrot case, or Phala Phala incidents, among many others. The recent accusations are no exception to this standing norm.
Despite these false accusations and linkages to corrupt activities, President Geingob fared well in the fight against corruption and ultimately effective governance when he cancelled the Hosea Kutako International Airport upgrading tender, which was inflated from N$3 billion to N$7 billion, and launched investigations into alleged irregularities in the contracts for the National Oil Storage Facility and Neckartal Dam, which exposed the government to currency fluctuations, amongst others.
In upholding the mandate of his office to keep and respect the Constitution of this country, the President lived true to his mantra of processes, systems and institutions, when during February 2018, the head of state requested several Cabinet ministers to respond to allegations of corruption levelled against them. Their responses were subsequently forwarded to the Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation, and today, two senior former ministers are in jail, with no interference from the Executive.
In 2015, President Geingob became a trendsetter when he and his wife voluntarily and publicly declared their assets, allowing Namibians and the world to have a peak into their financial status. This made him the first, if not the only African leader, to do so.
This begs the question, for President Geingob, is the crown heavier due to the quest of leading Namibians to prosperity and equality, or are we simply responsible for making the head heavier with hatred, agendas and falsehoods?