Party poopers gun for Swapo

The opposition thronged police stations yesterday to lay charges against the ruling party for its alleged lockdown violations.

21 April 2020 | Politics



Opposition parties Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and Landless People’s Movement (LPM) separately laid charges against the ruling party Swapo yesterday for alleged violations of the Covid-19 state of emergency regulations.

The alleged violations occurred on Sunday at a ceremony to celebrate the ruling party’s 60th birthday, attended by about 20 people.

Emergency regulations allow a maximum of 10 people in a crowd.

On 21 March, when state of emergency regulations allowed crowds of maximum 50 people, about 400 people attended independence anniversary celebrations at State House.

On Sunday, videos and pictures of President Geingob shaking hands with his predecessor Hifikepunye Pohamba went viral on social media.

‘Geingob must apologise’

Political commentator Henning Melber argues that, given the visual evidence present on social media, Geingob must apologise to the nation and the police should launch an official investigation.

He drew comparisons with a recent incident in which police broke up a house party and arrested 19 young Namibians for violating the emergency rules.

“What happened to the youngsters who ended in police arrest because they were partying at a Windhoek home should have been the consequence for the party leadership celebrating in even bigger numbers; they should have been arrested and brought to a police station waiting for release on bail. This is equality before the law,” Melber said.

He added that although Geingob enjoys immunity as head of state, that does not mean he is above the law.

“I only hope that this is not signifying the party's attitude towards the legal system and the duties of all citizens. For those living under harsh conditions and battling to survive, watching the Swapo elite eating cake adds insult to injury.

‘I don’t know’

Police chief Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga said no case has been opened against the Swapo elites who attended the party.

“I am not sure to what extent the regulations were violated. I also do not know how many people attended the party and in which space. I only heard the party will have its commemoration yesterday,” he said.

Selfish and perplexing

Human rights lawyer Norman Tjombe asked: “How selfish is it that some people are expected to be locked down in homes that cannot even accommodate two people at the risk of arrest and imprisonment, and the leaders go have a party and eat cake?”

Meanwhile, the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) said it was perplexed by the way Swapo and Geingob continue to behave lately depite the coronavirus outbreak.

Nudo secretary-general Joseph Kauandenge also criticised Geingob for hosting more than 400 guests last month at his inauguration at State House.

“We want to know since when did the Swapo birthday party become an essential service. Poor Namibians are being arrested and charged on a daily basis and they have to part ways with their hard-earned N$2 000 yet the powers that be behave as if they are not the ones who put the regulations in place in the first place,” he said.

Only nine people

Swapo executive director Austin Samupwa however insisted that no rules were violated and that only nine people beside himself attended the gathering, bringing the figure to 10.

“Unless they (media) are saying they were the 10th or 11th persons, now if we tell them to stay away, we are accused of censoring them. Then the other members were the security officials, one or two. You cannot tell those people to leave the room,” he said.

According to Samupwa, the catering officials only entered the venue to bring in the birthday cake.

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