Diescho leaves country

The professor says it is very difficult to have no role to play in his motherland.

05 February 2019 | Politics

Professor Joseph Diescho left Namibia for Berlin, Germany on Thursday last week, saying it was “necessary to get out” of Namibia after his longstanding public feud with President Hage Geingob and alleged subsequent hostility from public institutions.

“I arrived in Europe to join the long queue of African professionals who are pushed out of their countries of birth by hostile and anti-intellectual environments wherein they are not allowed to serve their nations as producers and transmitters of knowledge,” Diescho yesterday said while he was in transit in Frankfurt.

He said he was not certain how long he would remain in self-imposed exile.

“Europe and America have their own disease of anti-foreigners, which makes things doubly difficult for those running away from their governments. I am looking for meaning and relevance in areas where I have some competency and pray to God that something will come up,” Diescho wrote of his future prospects abroad.

Diescho said he had hoped that a small country such as Namibia “with so much goodwill” in its people, could manage differences of opinion better than what the country has learnt from the rest of Africa.

“I have committed no crime, broken no law nor breached my employment agreement [with the Namibian Institute for Public Administration and Management, Nipam],” Diescho said.

Diescho was dismissed as executive director of Nipam in 2015, which he said was a politically motivated move to punish him for his critical column, 'Diescho's Dictum', which was published in the state-owned New Era newspaper.

He said after his dismissal he had been approached by four government ministries that wanted to utilise his skills “but were blocked at a higher level”.

He said banks for which he had conducted services to while he was still working in South Africa - before his return to Namibia and short employment at Nipam - would not use his services anymore since he was now considered a “political risk”.

Moreover, he said the NBC cancelled a one-on-one interview with him on the morning of the production, with the excuse that it was “not safe” to continue.

He said the Namibia Qualification Authority (NQA), which last year approached him and a Zimbabwean national to assist with qualification assessments, had also at the last minute cancelled the arrangement with him saying he was “not welcome due to the political climate”.

Also last year Unesco, after having invited him to participate in a project, was “advised” by National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi that this would “not go down well with State House”.

“I could not even participate in the conference. At the insistence of Prof Katjavivi I was allowed to attend but when I entered the hall well-meaning people from our parliament advised me not to say anything,” Diescho claimed.

He said after having been invited by the Roman Catholic seminary to its first graduation, he was informed three days before the event that he was no longer welcome because there would be “important guests”.

Diescho said he was also blocked from speaking to the Southern Africa Civil Society Coalition of the Catholic Church in Gaborone, Botswana, last year, allegedly because the Namibian government “was not happy” with him.

Diescho said his request to sit in as an observer at the second national land conference was also “flatly” denied by Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

In 2016 he said he was invited by the HaMbukushu's cultural festival to read the history of the community, but that was foiled by a phone call from the president's office.

When Fumu Ervin Munika refused this instruction, President Geingob refused to attend the event, Diescho claims.

“And so on,” Diescho illustrated the ongoing tussle with the president.

He said he had “no idea” what he had done to offend President Geingob. He said he had sought the president's advice and was willing to apologise if he had done something wrong. Diescho said he engaged former President Hifikepunye Pohamba and both vice-presidents, as well as intelligence officials, while judicial officers had “looked into the matter”, who “without exception” could find nothing wrong.

“I can tell you it has been very difficult to be without any role in my motherland,” Diescho wrote.

Worse, he said, friends and relatives started avoiding him after having received calls from “state officials” on “what they were doing” with him.

“[We] are now entering a violent and lawless phase of our national history and I do not know where I will be and it does not matter anymore,” Diescho wrote.

Presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari said State House would respond to Diescho's assertions at a later date.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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