Geingob, Diescho slugfest
Friday’s town hall meeting at Rundu turned into a heated argument about the firing of Professor Joseph Diescho as head of the Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management.
12 August 2019 | Politics
President Hage Geingob has used a town hall meeting to lay into one of his fiercest critics, Professor Joseph Diescho, while claiming that he had brought Diescho back from “the wilderness”.
Geingob also appeared to have confirmed that Diescho was indeed fired as Namibia Institute of Public Administration and Management (Nipam) director because of his so-called “dictums” which he had written for New Era.
Diescho served as head of Nipam for two years and was dismissed in December 2015.
“I am the only one who was doing things for Diescho and the only person he singles out in Swapo is me,” Geingob said during the Kavango East Region town hall meeting which took place at Rundu on Friday.
“At Nipam where the professor was supposed to shine, there were dictums written but you will not see any dictum about Nipam, on how to lead Nipam, none. The rest (Frans) Kapofi will tell you.
“So that is the person I brought back from the wilderness because I was told he does not have a house here (Rundu). He cares for Kavango and still does not have a house, he stays in the Catholic church whatsoever.
“I don’t waste my time on Professor Diescho, I see his writings but I have more important things to do. Don’t let Diescho mislead you because he failed on his own.”
Geingob made the remarks after various speakers, including the chairperson of the Muzokumwe Volunteers Organisation (MVO), Paulus Mbangu, asked why Diescho had been removed from Nipam and treated as an outcast.
During the meeting, Geingob further claimed that the late Theo-Ben Gurirab, during his time as Swapo's representative at the United Nations, whom Diescho had praised when criticising the Geingob administration, was in fact one of those who did not trust Diescho.
According to Geingob, Gurirab’s distrust of Diescho was because he had reportedly been approached on a number of occasions to spy against Swapo.
He further revealed that former Swapo Politburo member Helmut Angula, who also served as chief representative to the UN before independence, did not trust Diescho.
When contacted for comment, Angula flatly denied Geingob’s allegation, saying he could not recall anything of that nature and asked to be left alone.
Angula also questioned why Geingob had to draw the name of the late Gurirab into the saga, as he cannot defend himself.
“I have no recollection of anything like that; I have been on good terms with Professor Diescho,” Angula said.
“Why did he have to talk about someone who is dead and who cannot defend himself? Why can’t he not just answer why the people are not there, it is a straightforward question. Theo is not here to defend himself and let them leave my name out of this.”
Meanwhile, Diescho at the weekend also responded to Geingob, while confirming that he was the author of a series of posts circulating on social media.
Diescho pointed out that Geingob had finally admitted that his newspaper column is what cost him his job at Nipam. However, he denied that he never wrote a column about Nipam.
“Finally you admit to the world that it is my dictum that led to my dismissal. And you lie with a straight face that I did not write a single dictum about Nipam. There was more than one,” Diescho said.
On the issue of Gurirab not trusting him, Diescho refuted the claims, saying Geingob was not happy that he opted to praise the late Gurirab and not him.
“I take great exception that you cast aspersions on the good name of the late Theo-Ben Gurirab, with whom I had an extraordinarily filial relationship such that just before he passed he described me as the voice of the Namibian nation. You had a problem that I praised him and not you. This is pathetic that you wish to be praised instead of the dead,” Diescho said.
“Your rush to name people because you had no answer to citizens’ questions is a very dangerous sign of political immaturity and lack of sophistication for a person of your position,” Diescho hit back.
Town hall drama
At the Rundu town hall meeting, Geingob was asked to explain a submission he had made as prime minister in parliament back in 1991, in which he reportedly raised issues concerning the poor representation of the Kavango people in top government positions.
Mbangu said it was hypocritical for Geingob to be against those who now expressed the same sentiments.
“It cannot be right for you, Mr President, to accuse us of trying to push Namibia back into Bantustans when we are raising the same issues that you raised in parliament 28 years ago. If representation is not needed, why should people vote?” Mbangu asked.
Geingob responded by saying that he stood by what he said as quoted by Mbangu. He said the infighting among people of the various Kavango tribes was one of the key factors as to why they felt left out.
Geingob furthermore questioned why some people from Kavango East Region are allowing themselves to be used by Diescho, whom he repeatedly called a failure.