Geingob draws Kavango fire

Kavango politics seems to have become a minefield for President Hage Geingob.

16 August 2019 | Politics

KENYA KAMBOWE and ELLANIE SMIT



President Hage Geingob has come under fire following comments he made during this week’s town hall meeting in Kunene, where he reportedly claimed Kavangos had voted overwhelmingly for the DTA during the country’s first democratic elections in 1989.

“We googled; we like to do research and just to look at the first elections, the results for the Kavango who claim they voted for Swapo, it’s not true, it was terrible. We lost Kavango basically, terribly,” Geingob reportedly said.

However, the election results in Kavango showed that 27 256 people had voted for Swapo, while 22 046 had cast their ballots for the DTA.

Geingob’s comments have not been well received by both a Kavango-based pressure group calling themselves the Muzokumwe Volunteers Organisation (MVO) as well as the rebranded DTA, now known as the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM).

The MVO’s Paulus Mbangu explained that DTA performed well in Kavango during the 1989 elections because the area was a war zone and an apartheid regime stronghold.

He further alleged the DTA and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita) had worked together and used people from Angola to participate in the elections.

“Ironically the DTA was at the time under the leadership of his close friends whom he now rubs shoulders with in his version of Swapo. The fact is that the DTA's numbers were a bit high because of the well-documented role that Unita and the DTA militia men played in ferrying Angolan voters to vote in Kavango.”

Mbangu further argued that during the 1992 local and regional government elections DTA was defeated at the regional elections and did not scoop any constituency.

“In the 1992 local and regional elections all doubts were removed when DTA could not win a single constituency in the whole region. In the contrary and ironically, Khorixas where this statement was made was a United Democratic Front (UDF) stronghold since before independence until the last elections. What research is that which was done?” Mbangu asked.

PDM leader McHenry Venaani also blasted Geingob at a media conference yesterday, saying the head of state was using ethnicity to play Namibians up against each other. He also threatened to start a process to impeach Geingob in parliament.

A fuming Venaani said Geingob, who was chairperson of the committee that drafted the country’s constitution, should know better.

“He is acting like a man that is a constitutional delinquent.” According to him, the remarks made by Geingob are unacceptable, unconstitutional and punishable.

“He is denying rights to the people of the Kavango because they voted for the DTA. How dare you? You are in direct conflict with the constitution, because if you vote for the opposition you are denied rights and development. We will push for a motion in parliament to impeach the president,” said Venaani. Local commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah described Geingob’s sentiments as an insult.

“The remarks that came from the head of state are a little bit of an insult,” Kamwanyah said.

“I also think for the president, especially when we find ourselves in an election year, to just come up with such a sweeping statement and generalising, he has to know that those who are asking the questions might not represent the entire Kavango regions, so for him to resort to saying that they voted for DTA, I think it is an unwise statement from the head of state and the president of the Swapo Party.”

Another political commentator Hoze Riruako said Geingob had emphasised unity and reconciliation when he made the statement.

“The president would be best suited to explain it himself but I think in the spirit of national reconciliation and unity and for Swapo to campaign vehemently, so now getting more supporters and new people to the party it is very important that the president’s opinion should be preaching more about unity especially as it is an election year,” Riruako said.

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