The politics of accidental opinion remarks on Fishrot

12 August 2020 | Opinion

TOBIAS NANDE NANDJIGWA



'Accidental opinion of the day' was first echoed by the author of the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.

In 1789, 12 years after American independence, Thomas Jefferson cemented the psychology behind the expression of accidental opinions through a self-dialogue between his 'Heart and the Head'. His dialogue educates us that situations often produce a crisis of clinging to what is dearest to a being. Hence, the head absorbs the heart but the heart keeps on beating in the mind. Thus, the Bible verse: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Mathew 12v34)

So, the above is the premise through which one can filter to understand Swapo's position on the Fishrot scandal. Lately, the remarks of accidental opinions and from the least expected questions and answers by Namibia's executives speak more volumes than the official written correspondences.

“I don't think they are guilty,” was a recent accidental remark by President Hage Geingob, referring to the Fishrot accused. Even if he subsequently corrected it to mean innocent until proven guilty, it did not happen in a vacuum but in a quantum of psychological intent at influencing that perception.

If there are unhitched legal or ethical boundaries to bear undue influence on a matter that is before a court (Samherji Fishrot) through any commentaries by President Hage Geingob and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, then their zeal to midwife the term and defend it as “a so-called Fishrot” (Sona, parliament, 2020) fuel a cynical appeal harbouring an undue prejudice and influence that they are indeed claiming to avoid.

'So-called Fishrot' is a flashpoint and rightly so a directional difficulty in itself: the perfect phraseology in seeding up a conspiracy to galvanise the dark force against the scandal's graphic details in the light. It exposes the underbelly's first tender piece of the executive's weight in being complicit.

The language used by these political players creates an unnecessary conundrum of reducing something (global scandal) to simply nothing and discreetly influencing the public narrative of Fishrot at a time when we are living at the edge of the post-truth Fishrot environment.

As Nigerian Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka once said, “Language can be an instrument of war”. Beautifully crafted words can shape lives and a single pronouncement can stir conviction and change the face of a nation.

Such remarks of accidental opinion by state actors qualify to serve to decrease the likelihood of investigators and the jury of the court to act upon independently if not unbiased against the top executive wishes. It premises to destroy the Fishrot power it carries in identifying where all the illicit proceeds got stuck. It also reduces the seriousness in fronting the corruption fight in this particular case. It signalled that our leaders are operating under a different stimulus that defies analysis of Fishrot reality and that of the nation at large.

Another remark with a harmonic beat joined the fray from Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah, minister of foreign affairs, when she told the world that “the Fishrot Saga had been spoken about too much and must be left in the hands of authority” (parliament, NBC live stream, 2020).

It's unacceptable for her to dictate quietness in the court of public opinion. Netumbo's pronouncement simply sharpened the irony and intensified the pain of people. She is willing to put the truth to sleep even if it just rose to the light. Hers is simply a sceptical protective device counting on the nation's ability to forget a scandal since she is from the exile school of thought where “there is no comfort in the truth”.

There is a clear insensibility located and grounded in the conviction of either abetting, hiding, avoiding or concealment by both the president, prime minister and foreign affairs minister because their counterpoint remarks are a barometer that does not preserve the sanctity, safety and comfort of the state, nor displays the intellectual capital that marvel stewardship glory, tender, devotion, and decency amidst a scandal of this magnitude. Their remarks instead translate into a distraction that undercuts the prospects to exhaust all our bases in fighting the Fishrot saga, given their influential voices as state actors.

The attitude on a display is nothing but an overt softening of a crime (scandal) with an artificial hypersensitivity of downplaying it without acknowledging it since their harmonic remarks are not saying anything but they are taking away the nation's instinct that comes with the sociology around the Fishrot scandal. Why the reluctance to offend the Fishrot culprits by the top Namibian leadership?

It seriously depicts an attitude that is hard to fathom but yet easily compatible to link all these accidental opinions in the catapulting-removal of the country's chief criminal investigator, Commissioner Nelius Becker (Police chief investigator moved to forensics, The Namibian, 2020) and the shameless, senseless removal of Hannu Shipena (Intelligence official replaces ACC executive director, The Namibian, 2020) in a wolf pack model-style to make it look like the proactive, outspoken Shipena is not the main target: a retribution for speaking out against government underfunding the graft watchdog.

In the realm of spotting out the recipients of Fishrot proceeds elements in its functionary ranks, the question for the ruling Swapo leadership is from the Nigerian Yoruba tribe asking, '”How many teeth do we have to count in the multiple layers of a dental deformity?'

*Tobias Nande Nandjigwa is a social science educator.

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