Martin Bazooka Nanyemba
As is characteristic of the Namibian political and media landscape where some entities thrive on the latest gossips, destructive innuendos and politics of division, it is little wonder that President Hage Geingob’s recent remarks at the Swapo Party Central Committee meeting of 2 October 2021 were misconstrued and presented to the public as an insult to the Central Committee members, and more outrageously, as an attack on the Judiciary and the Electoral Commission of Namibia. It baffles the mind that out of the entire meeting, this is what the media found to be newsworthy, so much so that they decided to dedicate entire front pages to nothing more than a storm in a teacup and thereby shortchanging the people for the sake of gossip.
The actual footage of the event, and the subsequent positive manner in which the meeting took place and concluded productively in a spirit of unity and camaraderie, clearly illustrates that all the media hullabaloo generated outside of the real context was indeed a case of much ado about nothing, a waste of good energy, oxygen and time. It is also an indictment on the quality of our journalism.
Evidently, the Swapo Party President’s words were deliberately misconstrued to the extent that various words said in reference to different issues at different times of the meeting were lumped together, creating a false narrative claiming that the President said, and here I quote The Namibian newspaper’s Friday cartoon, “Swapo leaders have weak hearts, walk like they are dead, and appear finished. They can go to hell.”
This media-fabricated quote is overly stretching the truth. It is a blatantly contrived lie, of course meant to divisively drive a wedge between the party President, the members of the Central Committee and the rank and file, for them to lose confidence in his leadership before the 2022 Extra- Ordinary Elective Congress.
The President never insulted or denigrated any Swapo party leader or Central Committee members. Please watch the footage of the Swapo Party Central Committee meeting carefully, which is the key in understanding the President’s statement at the congress.
First, from the clip it can be seen that the Swapo President is in a jovial, zestful and joking mood, and is busy making tongue-in-cheek comments, together with the Secretary General, and joined by the Swapo Party Vice President: nothing serious or malicious, just good, old simple joking among comrades sitting on the front table.
Secondly, the song being sang is not about the President, as some media articles claimed. This was a fabricated lie that the President was unhappy with the “lacklustre song praise given to him”. Thirdly, the comments of “being dead,” “not the same Swapo” and “they can go to hell”, followed by robust laughing in reference to the lacklustre singing are all part of the conversational tone and joke with the Secretary General and the Vice President in close proximity. These phrases never constituted a direct address to the Central Committee members!
To those who know little of the Swapo Party President’s character, he has a very robust, almost macho bravura personality, which can appear threatening at times to the uninitiated. When he is deadly serious about a matter, there is no laughing, patience or beating around the bush.
He will express his displeasure as straight as it comes. Clearly, that and the anger element were completely absent in the video clip. Instead, he is laughing and joking jovially, which illustrates that either some who reported an angry President saw a different Geingob in the figment of their imaginations than the one at the meeting. Therefore, reporting the ‘go to hell’ phrase as a factual statement was definitively incorrect since it is taken out of context.
The only conclusion that any honest Namibian can reach is that some members of the media, in an attempt to perpetuate their negative narrative of the Swapo Party, have resorted to what can be termed as drive-by reporting.
In the callous spirit of the notorious early 20th century Chicago gangster Al Capone, who attained notoriety for conducting drive-by hits on his enemies by shooting indiscriminately from moving vehicles in their direction, hoping to hit as many of them as possible, some reporters have resorted to throwing out an array of negative stories, innuendos and unproven inferences, aimed at Swapo, with the hope that something may stick and taint the party’s image.
Regarding the reminder to all Swapo Party members that the party is a ruling party with illustrious liberation struggle credentials and not a defeated backwater opposition party, the party President simply read the riot act to all rank and file members by strongly discouraging them not to act in a defeatist manner.
In fact, the party President reinvigorated the party comrades not to be cowed into submissive silence by media and social media reports, which are daily delegitimising them through untrue and generalised accusations of corruption.
From the above logic, we conclude that the Swapo Party President definitively did not insult or belittle any Central Committee member, except to inspire and embolden them and the Swapo Party MPs, women, men, elders and the youth to help the Party reclaim its rightful position as the vanguard revolutionary liberator of Namibia and its people.