The Damara King’s Council says its subjects are not banned from participating in peaceful demonstrations, denying allegations that Chief Justus Garoeb has directed his subjects not to partake in demonstrations being mooted against construction of a new parliament.
The council says it advises its subjects to only join the demonstration against the proposed N$2.2 billion new parliament building after the 7-day ban imposed by the police expires.
This is according to Abner Xoagub, who is the secretary general of the council. He was responding to questions from New Era on alleged calls by Damara Chief Justus //Garoeb that Damara-speaking Namibians not take part in the much-hyped planned demonstration.
//Garoeb is believed to have made these remarks during a live broadcast on the NBC’s Damara radio service, leading to a fierce social media backlash against the ageing chief.
It is believed that the traditional leader warned his people to be careful of demonstrations that are “birthed from the North”.
//Garoeb is not new to making such remarks as in 2014 he called on all Damara-speaking Namibians to vote for President Hage Geingob, then a Swapo presidential candidate, as the “Wambos have eaten for too long.”
Speaking to New Era yesterday, Xoagub dismissed talks that //Garoeb was involved in yet another storm of tribal utterance.
“I listened to that show and there are no such things. Maybe those saying these things listened to a different thing. He never said that and I can ask the radio people to send me the recordings and I can listen to them,” Xoagub explained.
“If they [Damaras] have to get involved in demonstrations and things, they will get involved because you cannot tell people not to get involved. If people believe that this cause is a genuine cause then we cannot stop them,” he said.
“That is more of an individual decision which the traditional leaders do not have direct control over.”
He added that if there is a march against the proposed construction of the new parliament building and if some of the Damara people believe it is not the right time for such a project, they have the right to participate in the demonstration and actions that are being taken by the rest of the citizens of the country.
However, Xoagub stressed the situation will be different if there are certain legal restrictions and conditions which would make the action illegal.
“For instance if the head of police says during this period there will be no demonstration, certainly we will tell people to follow the law which is there, but if that period is over then they are free to demonstrate peacefully,” he said.
This is exactly what the chief of police Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga did when he issued a ban on all public demonstrations from June 13 – 18 for security reasons and international visitors to the country during that period.