Herold Binda and Shampapi Shiremo
If ever there was any illusion about the gulf in leadership ability between the [Acting] President of SWAPO and his challengers, it is becoming more apparent as we draw closer to the Swapo 6th congress. One is therefore left dumbfounded by the lack of direction by President Hage Geingob’s rivals.
Surely, one cannot wish to wrest power away from an individual on the basis of a personality dislike of that particular person. We have observed that every opportunity that the President’s rivals get, they don’t waste any time in pointing out the failures and challenges within the Swapo Party blamed on the President and Secretary-General Nangolo Mbumba rather than to offer viable solutions to the current state of affairs which in the view is not desirable.
In stark contrast to his rivals, President Geingob and his running mates have once more moved a step ahead of the pack by being the first to release their campaign manifesto. This is true to the words of former American President Theodore Roosevelt who remarked: “It is not the critic who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood that will bare the fruit of remembrance”.
In our view, one of the greatest challenges for our country moving forward, is the destructive tendency of tribalism. Tribalism is a very dangerous ill that has seen the destruction of many other African countries, Rwanda and Burundi still being fresh examples in Africa. It is totally disheartening to hear a leader claim that he/she did not have a tribe in mind when he/she selected or appointed someone in a country where there is a very serious growing concern over tribe tensions.
We are pleased that the President acknowledges that we have a challenge at our hands, thus he came up with the mantra “no one must feel left out”. It is only responsive and responsible leadership that can admit and speak out about this challenge and thus, President Geingob must be applauded for his bravery for holding the bull by its horns. It is not enough to merely claim that you are not a tribalist, but should be seen walking the talk.
In Africa, tribalism is inextricably linked to competition and confrontation over power and resources. Thus, it is important to come up with a clear formula that is deliberate to ensure that power and resources are not skewedly distributed in our country, to only favour a particular ethnic group.
There is nothing wrong to be ambitious to have the type of leadership that has a national character for our country as shown by the President. It must therefore be said that while the executive positions to be filled within the Swapo Party are only four, it must then be accepted that not everyone can be accommodated.
This can however not discount the fact that there is a genuine effort by President Geingob to ensure that no individual or group feels left out. National leaders need to be sensitive to what they say and do. If we address people and broadcast that message solely in one language service to target a certain language group, the question to be answered is then why choose that medium of communication while we have a national radio which broadcasts in English, the language the Republic’s Constitution declares as an official language?
These are serious issues that need to be answered by those who are seen to be leading the country onto a tribal path. Tolerance and building bridges are key to nation building and we cannot afford to further polarize our nation. Since independence, President Geingob has been very successful in his national outlook in ensuring that he remains Namibian first before he identifies himself as a member of some tribe in Namibia. We cannot afford to sweep this discussion away because when a young award-winning artiste makes such an ill-advised statement about a sitting President one cannot help but to ask where is it coming from and what provokes it.
* Herold Stanley Binda and Shampapi Shiremo are graduates from the University of Namibia. Views expressed are theirs as guarantied in the Namibian Constitution.