Town hall meetings 'no election gimmick'

State House has hit back at opposition claims that the president's regional meetings are nothing but electioneering.

15 August 2019 | Politics

Presidential spokesperson Alfredo Hengari has categorically denied allegations that President Hage Geingob's town hall meetings are a disguised election campaign taking place at taxpayers' expense or that anyone is being excluded. Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) vice-president Jennifer van den Heever dubbed the town hall meetings as a “Swapo Party campaign” in statement last week.

She slammed the “inconsiderate and irresponsible manner” in which Geingob is running the “supposed” town hall meetings, claiming opposition party members were denied access to these gatherings. Van den Heever said Geingob is using the town hall meetings to “advance a single party's agenda”, saying the PDM had during an earlier occasion asked Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila to distinguish between state and political party resources. Geingob's town hall meetings are attended by most of his cabinet ministers and other aides.

Van den Heever said Geingob, instead of “surrounding” himself with “handclapping advisors”, he should consult with the opposition, who should “school him” on crucial national issues.

Some of the issues she identified are the public education and health sectors, the land question, the “collapse” of the economy and unemployment, particularly amongst young graduates.

Hengari said no one has been denied the opportunity to take part in the town hall meetings, on the basis of political affiliation.

“Anyone who says that is spreading falsehoods. The meetings are open to all Namibians and the list of those who asked questions and made submissions demonstrates the diversity of views expressed in the town hall meetings and across the political divide,” Hengari said.

He said all the meetings are “open, inclusive and transparent”, while “respecting the cardinal principle of inclusivity”.

CATHERINE SASMAN

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