Respect works both ways

28 May 2019 | Opinion

Deputy agriculture minister Anna Shiweda has become the latest high-profile voice to admonish the youth for being disrespectful and insulting elders on platforms such as Facebook.

Speaking at a belated Cassinga Day commemoration held this past weekend at Ondugu village in the Omusati Region, Shiweda said: “It is, equally, disheartening to observe the decaying of discipline among young people, including the school-going children. These types of behaviours do not conform to the African tradition, cultural values and norms.”

This may be fair comment, but what exactly is it about the musing and vexing of youth on social media that has the Swapo and government leaders crying foul time and time again?

Earlier this year information minister Stanley Simataa moved to counter what he described as a deliberate distortion of what he meant in a statement in which he urged the nation not to hurl insults at leaders.

Simataa had taken issue with citizens who insulted leaders on social media, saying that the government would not shy away from using the provisions of the law to hold the perpetrators accountable.

The minister said he had noted with great concern a deluge of derogatory and insulting messages, directed at President Hage Geingob, cabinet members and the entire government, circulating on social platforms.

The minister did not divulge the identity of those hurling these insults, nor did he tackle those insulting on behalf of those in power.

It is all good and well to harp on insults, and these should not be condoned. However, the intent behind this constant reminder to be respectful may have a deeper meaning.

Perhaps it is tied to the belief that if leaders can be publicly tackled, there will no longer be an unquestioning following of the former liberation movement that has now ruled this country for 29 years. That would also explain why the notion of independent candidates standing in local and other elections is being treated like a leper’s rag by the powers that be. And in any event, respect works both ways.