Some people more important than others – Geingob

04 August 2021 | Government

NAMPA



WINDHOEK

President Hage Geingob has justified why politicians - including himself - have breached Covid-19 burial restrictions, saying they are not equal to ordinary citizens.

Geingob was responding to media queries at State House last Friday.

The violation of Covid-19 regulations has become a normal occurrence, particularly at state funerals which are attended by at least 100 people, including Cabinet ministers, army officials and family members of the deceased.

“People are counting everyone including the essential workers. At state funerals, I am, like other government officials, there to perform essential duties. Security officers are there to perform their essential duties. The state is a state,” he said.

The president was dumbfounded that members of the public think they are equal to politicians.

“This equality thing has been misunderstood. If you have a president with his security detail, they follow him everywhere, so are you going to count those people who are doing their essential duties?”

He added: “When we say 10 people coming to mourn, family members from that house are not counted. With late Ngavirue, we had government officials inside [the tent] and all the children were outside, so we said they must come inside. I said don’t count me. I came as an official to bury my friend… so [I used] common sense that the children and family must come in [to make the 10 people].”

Stature is everything

Previously, funerals were to be attended by only 10 people, which was last Friday increased to 50.

But in the case of the late Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro who succumbed to Covid-19 on 18 June, this regulation did not apply, and he was buried a month later.

Traditional norms and rituals for a person of his stature were cited as why government had to bend the rules to accommodate Rukoro’s funeral.

“We had issues of culture in terms of [the funeral of] Ombara [Rukoro] where culture and rituals needed to be done, that tribe’s culture says it must be done so [and so]. As [a] law implementer, I am looking at the law and circumstances of each case as it comes,” he said.

Peace and stability

This, he added, was in the interest of peace and stability of the nation.

“We chose to withdraw legal practices… and allowed the culture to take extra days and there is peace today. We don’t just implement law blindly without looking at circumstances,” he explained.

Geingob’s remarks come at the back of calls for government to consider placing a moratorium on state and official funerals, as rising deaths, mostly attributed to Covid-19, have cost taxpayers at least N$5 million.