• July 23rd, 2019
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The township versus estate debate

The end of 2017 saw the media attend the end of year media briefing at State House, where President Dr Hage Geingob, his cabinet members and advisors shared the development and progress made in 2017. This was a great exercise and symbol of the democratic values of Namibia and demonstrates that our politicians truly embrace free speech and give the media and other stakeholders the opportunity to grill their elected leaders. The year 2017 proved to be difficult, with lots of economic headwinds and yet, the president and his staff were able to point to real achievements made. Targets that had been cast in stone in the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) were already coming to fruition, despite the socio-economic challenges both regionally and nationally. After a press conference, it was assumed that these highlights, milestones and improvements would take the lead in the newspapers. However, the following days proved that wrong. Headlines, editorials and letters simply cherry-picked whichever detail they felt like and placed it under a magnifying glass, blowing aspects out of proportion, whilst almost completely ignoring significant achievements. Some newspapers did lead with headlines such as; “HPP starting to bear fruit”, which is great and this happens to be the truth. However, other newspapers went the other way, perhaps expectedly so, but this does great damage to our nation and is truly not in the spirit of Harambee, where we are all supposed to ‘pull together’ to achieve the goals we have set out as a nation. One publication led the frontpage with the headline: “Even if I want to make money … It’s not your business” – and relegating the news that the president’s economic advisor brought, based on cold hard facts to p.3, must lead one to the conclusion that sensationalism trumps hard facts. With all the detrimental side effects attached. If you look at the summation of achievements in 2017, such as, Namibia retaining the freest press on the African continent, or the reduction of poverty from 37.7% to 18%, as well as launching the whistle-blower and witness protection laws enacted, to name just a few, it really should be something that we as a nation, the governing body as well as the politicians can and should be proud of. There is no doubting that there is a great deal still to be realised and lots of challenges lie ahead. Namibia is a young nation, a young democracy and yet we have achieved a lot, but it seems this is not to be celebrated. It is easier to cast aspersions, question everything and simply wonder why the government does not just wave a magic wand. Another quite telling piece of reporting was about the president’s township and his business dealings. The first question that springs to mind is: Why is it called a township, when in fact it is no different from any of the other real estate development projects in and around our capital city that are called estates? Estate brings to mind money, comfort, wealth and safety in a beautiful setting, while the word township immediately conjures up almost diametrically opposite visuals of an estate.   This shows a disturbing distinction that is made between the projects. Working out and understanding why the other developments are called estates and the one that the president and his business partners are involved in, is called a township, leads one to disturbing conclusions. Conclusions that in this day and age of equality should not even be part of any conversation. The media briefing was a chance for Namibia to cautiously celebrate and be optimistic about the future. Which will remain challenging, but is definitely not impossible. To be able to keep the nation motivated and all eyes on the prize means we do truly need to ‘pull together’ and not sensationalise certain aspects, whilst downplaying achievements, simply because it doesn’t fit a certain agenda or make for exciting or ambiguous headlines. It is my fervent hope that 2018 will see a fairer and more balanced approach and analysis of the activities and achievements and yes, failures, of the government, in the media. Concerned citizen
New Era Reporter
2018-01-12 10:09:55 1 years ago

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