'We are not going to worship Geingob'

15 March 2019 | Transport

President Hage Geingob has come under heavy fire from taxi boss Werner Januarie after State House cancelled a meeting with Namibian Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) leaders amid claims that the union had “acted in bad faith”.

Januarie, who is the president of the union, lashed out at Geingob yesterday, calling him a “cry-baby”, among other things.

“Just that one (newspaper) article and he changes his mind and feels offended. We are not going to worship Geingob. We will not retract any statement.”

Januarie originally requested that Geingob personally address taxi drivers at a meeting on 19 March, but the Office of the President informed him that due to other engagements the head of state would not be able to do so, and therefore proposed a meeting at State House. However, the meeting was cancelled yesterday because of statements Januarie had made to the media. A letter was sent to Januarie yesterday by the executive director in the president's private office, Moses Pakote, which informed him the meeting had been cancelled.

The letter said Geingob agreed in good faith to accord January and four NTTU leaders an audience, to hear their concerns and seek lasting solutions to their issues.

Pakote, however, said statements made in the media on 13 March by Januarie, which included a request for Geingob to address the NTTU meeting, were “an unfortunate manoeuvre for media grandstanding purposes”.

Januarie was quoted in the media as saying: “I, on behalf of taxi drivers, make this clarion call to the president to come address his people, thereby to restore hope in his people. Taxi drivers as well as many citizens of our country have totally lost hope, faith, trust and confidence in government and him. At first he seemed like the messiah we all have been waiting for.”

Pakote said despite Geingob's goodwill to meet with Januarie and his fellow leaders, the reasons for cancelling the meeting were clear.

Januarie has since lashed out at Geingob, questioning his leadership.

He said it was inconceivable that Geingob would cancel the meeting because of one article in the media.

He said his statement that people had “lost faith” was not from him, but was a general feeling on the ground.

“That is why we requested him to address the taxi drivers and restore faith. Our desire was not to meet with him personally, but for him to address the membership on the ground. If he wants to act like a cry-baby, then let him.”

January said although the government read newspapers, it was ignoring the plight of the people.

ELLANIE SMIT

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