Let's not get personal

29 October 2019 | Columns

While President Hage Geingob returned to his mantra of “playing the ball and not the man” and urging contestants in the upcoming general election to refrain from insults, social media remains awash with propaganda, not least of all targeting independent presidential candidate Dr Panduleni Itula.

Although Itula supporters are no angels, we have been noticing disturbing references to the race his wife, as well as him being a supposed “sell-out” to Western powers. It is once again the usual Harambee social media squad that is attacking the president's opponents, which is the same trend that emerged in the run-up to the 2017 Swapo congress.

Politicians by their nature should have thick skins, but it was rather pleasing to hear Geingob's utterances over the weekend at a Swapo star rally, where he said election contestants should focus on issues.

“Talk about our failures and what you are offering. That way people will see who has a better programme. Come with ideas. We launched our manifesto, which is our CV saying what we have done. We will continue with what we have done if you give us five more years,” Geingob said in Keetmanshoop.

This is the correct spirit from the incumbent president and should be emulated by those who support him.

Elections are not about creating enemies, but about a battle of ideas that can take the country forward. For too long we have become stuck in the rhetoric of liberation politics, where people are our enemies simply because they hold different views on what should happen in Namibia. Let us be careful of the language we use and the emotions we may willy-nilly want to inflame.

This election should be about plans and efforts to take our beloved motherland forward and to deal with growing poverty and inequality. It should not be about mudslinging and deriding each other or about spreading vicious gossip and false tales. Let the true character of our nation be revealed in the level of political debate.

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