The Office of the Vice President Dr Nickey Iyambo has expressed concern following a news article last Friday that seems to misconstrue his current visit to Kavango West and East, where he is consulting the governors.
During the five-day visit Iyambo is also meeting the traditional authorities and the government green scheme irrigation projects while also meeting councillors.
“It seems that certain news media, as per their newfound penchant, decided to deliberately misconstrue the official visit of H.E., the Vice President to the Kavango East and West regions, as a political campaign, due to an obviously unhealthy fascination with the upcoming Swapo Party Congress in November this year,” his office stated in reaction to the Windhoek Observer.
The headline: ‘Kavango meeting under scrutiny’, which appeared on April 21 in a local English weekly newspaper, made not only unsubstantiated but academically unsophisticated allusions by unnamed “anonymous political analysts.”
These speculatively claimed that Dr Iyambo’s official visit to the Kavango East and West regions was a political campaign aimed at drumming up support from traditional leaders of the region for President Geingob, who is also the current president of the Swapo Party, in the November 2017 Congress elections.
While it is understandable that the Swapo Party November Congress bug may have occasioned “congress fever” in some media sections, it would behoove those so afflicted not to jettison the internationally accepted common etiquette and professional media principles of impartiality, truthfulness, objectivity, factuality and accuracy under the cloak of “anonymous political analysts.”
The Office of the VP reminded that the cardinal golden rule of professional journalism, still applicable today, is for the professional journalist who is exclusively interested in unravelling the truth to ensure that he/she always double checks the facts.
The second golden rule is for both the professional journalist and the editor to ensure that the right of reply is afforded to the subject against whom claims are made.
It claimed the article in question fell short by a great stretch of meeting these basic requirements of professional journalism, despite the much touted credo of the said newspaper of “setting the nation’s agenda”.
As indicated elsewhere in countries, such as the USA, the conjuring of non-existent news is described as “fake news”, hence it would be troubling for the said newspaper’s credo to imply the setting of a fake news agenda for this nation.
The Office of the VP further said this situation is indicative of the appallingly low quality levels of journalism (which some have said are akin to gutter journalism) to which sections of our media have sadly descended to.
Judged from the fact that neither a right of reply was given to the vice president, nor were the “facts” verified, the self-regulatory function of the Namibian media, if it at all exists, could be described as non-effectual or stillborn.
It said the day is certainly drawing close for the Media Ombudsman and others with genuine concern for responsible media reporting to initiate a comprehensive investigation into the practices of some sections of the Namibian media, whether or not they are flagrantly and deliberately negate the basic fundamental rights of Namibian citizens and how such a situation could be remedied before exploding beyond control.
The Office of the VP further answered the allegations made with reference to the following pertinent facts:
The objectives of the Vice President’s official visit to the two regions are clearly spelled out to be of a developmental nature and not political, given that problems such as human-wildlife conflict, army worms decimating the crops, illegal fencing, border disputes, unemployment and others have nothing in common with any political campaigns. Hence, the presence of the line ministries such as agriculture, water and forestry; environment and tourism; urban and rural development; education, arts and culture etc, and not the secretary-general of the Swapo Party or other such party functionaries. Following the same logic, a courtesy visit to the Hompas of the area is a given common African courtesy, as they are integral agents in the community development process and thus cannot by any sound logic be construed to constitute political campaigning. Also, it is a fiduciary duty of the vice president and other government officials to always act in the best interest of the electorate through regular follow-ups and oversight to ensure public resources being invested in projects, such as the green schemes, are indeed delivering the required value, other than only sitting in offices and receiving reports.
The community meeting slated for April 25 in Rundu is open to all Namibian citizens to attend and verify first-hand for themselves, as it would exclusively deal with bread-and-butter and real life issues threatening the communities in question.
Clearly, any well-qualified political analyst, having earned reputable credentials to be accorded such a designation, should be conversant with the fact that a general community meeting or courtesy visits to the Hompas – who are not direct agents in a specific elective process of a particular political party – cannot be construed as a Swapo Party election political campaign.
And since, to the best knowledge of this office, the Swapo Party has not officially announced the start of the political campaign period for its November congress elections, the claim being made is preposterous.
The government resources employed for this mission have been put to good use on vital matters of community development through consultations. Through this process the executive branch of the government, as represented by the vice president, with the grassroots representatives of the two regions jointly explored alternative solutions to real everyday problems and challenges. This is called grassroots participatory democracy, which is essential to nurture a democratic, transparent and inclusive Namibian House.
The conception of community consultative meetings exclusively dealing with bread-and-butter developmental issues, regardless of political affiliation, is rightfully to be credited to the current president of the Republic of Namibia. In this way, political campaigns, rallies and discussions are best left to political parties at their own fora.
In conclusion, as to the alleged political shunning by the hompas of the Kavango West and East regions of President Dr Hage G. Geingob, we did not encounter or receive a single complaint against the president’s person in the course of our community consultations on development matters. On the contrary, the traditional leaders in the two regions agree with the president’s narrative that peace and stability are indispensable for development, as citizens of some other countries at war can hardly utter the term development.
Therefore, they support the Harambee Prosperity Plan, and the series of positive changes, such as the increased old age pension, electricity supply, rural sanitation and others, and called for unity in Namibia.
The hompas in the two regions and the chiefs all over Namibia are the custodians of traditional Namibian values, cultures and norms, and as such, being the country’s respected elders, they too carry the interests and well-being of Namibian citizens at heart.
Therefore, let us move beyond time-wasting pettiness and rather hold hands to uncompromisingly re-dedicate ourselves collectively towards our common vision of an inclusive, developed, prosperous One Namibia,One Nation.