The purpose of this rebuttal is not to defend the person, character and honour of President Hage Geingob as an individual, since he is more than able to do so by himself.
Rather, this commentary seeks to analytically clarify and expose as bellicose, false and sinister, some of the most brazenly insidious statements ever made in last Friday’s editorial in the Windhoek Observer against the Office of the President in the history of
Namibia, to blemish its integrity and legitimacy, through manipulation of perceptions.
The haste of the Windhoek Observer to ferociously link the President through defamatory editorial allusions, to the arrest of Jack Huang, a well-known business mogul, brings into question its editorial integrity.
Its open bias and hostility appeared to aim at negatively influencing peoples’ perceptions and serving as a signal for some action before even the court pronouncement. We have read of allegedly underground meetings in Okalongo and elsewhere, of some dissatisfied johnnies-come-lately to the Swapo fold; connivingly slogging day and night, without giving rest to their weary bodies, to drive a wedge between the Swapo Party vanguard leadership, and snatch the party presidency at the congress this year.
We hope the editorial was not meant to support this discarded angry BEE gang’s efforts to regain the top spot in the queue for the tender rice bowl, at the expense of all Namibian communities.
Below, are listed some of the Observer’s innuendos to which this commentary will respond briefly:
1. “……Having a best buddy and business partner who has been arrested and charged with corrupt practices that may have cost this country over N$3,5 billion in desperately needed revenue”
The “best [buddy ship],” is debatable but for the “business partnership”, the President has never hidden this fact, unlike some BEE beneficiaries who never ever declared for tax their “proxy business shares” or the “largesse commissions” from “huge billion dollar infrastructure deals”. Maybe it’s time for Treasury and Nampol to start the next round of investigations on all such BEE deals and commissions to augment our desperately needed revenue. After all tax evasion is tax evasion whether done by Chinese or Namibians! Only the courts are the definers of culpability of any accused, so until then, all accused persons are innocent before the law and the media.
2. “Given that our police forces are not reckless about pulling people off airplanes and holding them for court appearance with no compelling evidence in hand, we can aptly declare that where there is smoke, there may well be a raging veld fire in his case”
We all have high regard for our patriotic police. However in this instance, Sisa Namandje, Huang’s lawyer, was quoted as having said, ”I will not even call it an arrest. They grabbed my client unlawfully and we are going to challenge it immediately…” Namandje just did that and the State did not even oppose the bail. In fact, the newspapers reported on the un-procedural issuance of the warrant of arrest by the magistrate without the required sworn statement containing a minimum degree of reasonable suspicion and evidence to warrant the arrest. But this is best left to our most competent courts to determine the presence of a raging veld fire or a set up hoax, and not to media lynching akin to judgment by inebriated shebeen frequenters or by xenophobia-charged wildly out of control nut-heads.
3. “Huang’s arrest is a scandal for Geingob”
Why create a scandal or crisis where there is clearly none? Should we not rather celebrate the transparency of the Geingob administration which does not sweep under carpet such incidents, or block the police from executing their duties? The police did their job, the courts will do theirs, the lawyers will follow likewise and the verdict will inform us. In Namibia the ministers, friends and family can be arrested without the President interfering, and justice serve as per the court verdict. So this can only be a celebrated feat for the emerging beautiful robust Namibian governance system of transparency. There is no scandal or crisis here.
4. “If the accusations are proven in court, our own president may well have some tenuous link to the entire mess”.
‘If’ is not an axiomatic fact of reality, it is a speculative position, in short, wishful daydreaming. The President is not on trial here, neither is he a suspect or witness in this case, or is he on the Windhoek Observer’s trial list? The purpose of such a statement is to baselessly link the President to the case with which he clearly has nothing to do – zilch!
5.“We believe that President Geingob has compromised the integrity of State House”.
This embarrassingly nonsensical conclusion is devoid of any professional fairness. Not the media, or some schemers, but only parliament and the about 90% Namibian electorate who voted for the President, can as the sovereigns (through the ballot box) make such a judgment. This is not your call! What is the sin of the President in a case where he is neither a party nor a witness? Or should all Namibians based on their friendship or kinship be held responsible by the law for the actions of their associates? And become all criminals by association? Hopefully, this is not a calculated statement for an envisaged “putsch” requesting the President to step down, nor for a vote of no confidence in the offing.
6. “….. We wonder how the President will react to a business friend, who allegedly keeps N$3,5 billion in ill-gotten gains in his personal pocket that could have been used to support the national budget.”
These are seriously libelous stuff. The facts are that 100 different companies are implicated in this alleged tax fraud, so where did the new allegation come from that suddenly one man “… allegedly keeps N$3,5 billion in ill-gotten gains in his personal pocket?” other than from the editor of the Windhoek Observer, and not the police investigators. By so doing you are inventing news and also reporting on what you have contrived, becoming the investigator, prosecutor and juror simultaneously. This is reminiscent of the apartheid era propaganda strategy at its best; twist the facts to confuse, publicly vilify and demonise, and finally physically destroy the enemy target!
7. The late HH warned the public that “Hage has made too many mistakes”.
Blessed are the perfect souls with no mistakes and even no tiny skeletons in their caskets, who dare to cast the first stones! How low could one stoop to invoke such an out of context critique from a deceased (may his soul rest in peace), who himself made mistakes as is typical of all humans, and which some mistakes were pardoned by the same Geingob, his friend? This statement hints to a personally vengeful mindset, reflective of a seriously embittered soul.
8. “Given Namibia’s laws that provide for the legal confiscation of assets gained with illegal funds (should this be proven), we wonder if this will provoke an investigation into Huang’s business dealings, …”
This old trump card is usually meant to quickly escalate the charges to other sectors to find any evidence, in case the original charges don’t hold up. Is the intention here to spring the vengeful Gupta-styled surprise where the South African banks unilaterally closed all the company bank accounts by just screaming “state capture” even before any court verdict? The laws including the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA) of 2004, should be applied in the spirit for which they were designed by Parliament and not as political vengeance hammers of a few influential yet discarded BEE has-beens and their hidden political agents. On the other hand, it will not be a bad idea for full-scale investigations into the BEE political connections, tenders, and asset acquisition since independence to date.
9. “Huang’s relationship with Geingob speaks to how Geingob’s previous financial woes were settled including his payment of municipal bills and bank overdrafts, during his second tenure as Prime Minister”.
One can only hope that the Windhoek Observer has proof to support this grave slanderous accusation, the alternative option for a flagrant lie is to go out there and apologise quickly!
10. “ ….. We wonder why 60% of the 39 hectares owned by Geingob and his second wife, Loini Geingos, was sold to Huang for a below market price of less than N$400 000,”………. We wonder if the African Sunrise Investment deal was also possibly part of the same pattern of undervaluation to evade taxation.”
Hold your breath. Selling land for N$400 000, and transferring shares in the company owning the land for N$400 000, are not the same thing, so chill. There is no tax evasion here. Your statistics here also seem completely mixed up, same as the muddled reasoning pattern.
11. “What will be the impact of a Huang conviction, not just on the President’s Sunrise venture, but on other things?”
Such speculative questioning is only good wormwood fuel for gossip. It feeds a negativity breeding mindset and environment such as which informed the disastrous decisions of Hutu whole-scale Tutsi extermination and the Germans the Jews. Afterwards both the Hutus and the Germans were in a worse subservient relationship to their victims than before. Speculation and gossip ares never a basis for sound government or policy decision-making. Rather let us all wait until the actual court verdict and cross the river once there.
12. Ownership questions on the Stella Hansen house
The Office of the Prime Minister’s staff solicited donations from various companies after the plight of the Stella Hansen family through Katutura East’s Councillor, Ambrosius Kandjii, was brought to the then prime minister’s attention. On this basis, Huang’s NCLHO and the City of Windhoek were the two organisations which responded positively with the land and the building. The house is now owned by Stella Hansen, so again there is no need for speculation at this stage. Let the court process take its full course.
We have only one legitimate centre of executive State power in Namibia, the Presidency, around whose vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous Namibia all of us (state institutions e.g. intelligence, police, army and government) should rally without apology or fear. Anarchists and those with split personalities and loyalties trying to sow discord between the Trinitarian Vanguard leadership: the founding, former and the current presidents, and the Namibian people; by whispering in dark corners the ouster of a sitting President should be identified and swiftly brought to book.
Government office-holders and institutions are beholden to the Presidency, for the President to execute the electoral mandate. Hence, their loyalty to the President should be beyond reproach, and not even a whimper or wince of treachery should be heard, seen or sensed among them!
• Moses Pakote writes as a private Namibian citizen and these are his personal views.