Geingob tore up the constitution

23 October 2020 | Opinion

Tsudao Gurirab



Tomorrow, a week ago, on the occasion of the launch of Swapo's campaign for the November elections, President Hage Geingob tore up the country's constitution - well, sort of.

He told us in a belligerent tone that whites were registering in large numbers for these elections and this constituted a threat to Swapo and, ipso facto, the republic!

He elected to follow a dishonourable tradition not new to our continent. The likes of Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe have tried it before. But it didn't have to come to this for, after all, he is the midwife of our constitution.

I remember, with melancholy, his sterling role in the drafting of our standard bearer. The night before the all-party conference started, a small group of us were cocooned at Swapo's election office putting the final touches to the party's proposed constitution.

Geingob still found time to come in to check on us to ensure that our work was on course - hands on and conscientious. It was, therefore, befitting that he was elected as chairman of the all-party constitutional indaba. Our country's constitution, which was an outcome of this process is, of course, clear. It grants all citizens freedom of speech and association within the limits, if any, as proscribed by law.

At every election cycle the citizenry not only select a new group of leaders but critically examine the record of the incumbents in order to make the decision as to whether or not they are worthy of a new mandate.

This process can be robust at times but can never derogate from rights already granted under the constitution. Our continent, sadly, is a graveyard of so many noble ideas inscribed in this standard bearer.

And the president's posture of last week Saturday was cold comfort for all law-abiding, decent Namibians. It also behoves us to speak up load and unambiguously when rights of any section of Namibians are trampled upon. As we prepare for elections, particularly the subnational ones of November this year, we will do well to remember that we are selecting women and men who work closely with communities who must be custodians of their hopes and aspirations. Our communities up and down the country face a multiple of vicissitudes birthed by a cocktail of corruption and maladministration. But no, it is not the “whites”. The present administration, for most part, is nothing but an oozing big gogga at the noble heart of our nation.

They embezzle taxpayer's money, they do not account for funds placed under their care. And, heck, there are no consequences. Don't believe us, but read the auditor-general's reports. These indeed make for a sobering reading It is our prayer that good governance becomes a culture in the conduct of government business. For now, the only words which come to mind are incompetence, corruption and sleaze. We need not repeat the sins of our neighbours. We do not need to reduce our farms to dustbowls, as President Robert Mugabe had done before going to heaven, or flee with the family silver to Europe, as former president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos (of Angola) has done, or face the indignity of former South African President Jacob Zuma.

Public officials have only a singular responsibility and that is to serve the electorate - white, black, female or male.

Next month's elections, therefore, give Namibians a fresh start to cleanse our governing system. In other words, we need an audit of our governance of the last 30 years. And remember our constitution is, at all times, our standard bearer.

·Tsudao Gurirab is a former PLAN combatant, senior civil servant and MP.

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