The ruling Swapo Party’s controversial press conference held this week paints a picture of a governing party at odds with governance and communication principles and processes. Its new spokesperson Hilma Nicanor was given a baptism of fire at the party’s headquarters this week by the media when she attempted to defend party president Hage Geingob against Professor Joseph Diescho.
Nicanor struggled to answer questions posed by the media, much to the embarrassment of party members who attended the press briefing.
Many had their heads in their hands as Nicanor faced a barrage of questions. The situation was so bad that the party’s chief administrator Austin Samupwa had to constantly intervene to call the house to order and defending Nicanor’s failure to grasp and answer questions saying “it is her first time”.
The two[Geingob and Diescho] have been at loggerheads for years and outsiders have described their constant clashing as a “personal feud”.
In 2008, Diescho reportedly made disparaging and insulting remarks that he[Geingob] and Dr Theo Ben Gurirab are “opportunists”
Geingob defended himself later at a public forum calling Diescho an “intellectual prostitute”.
Diescho yesterday admitted calling Geingob an opportunist a decade ago, adding that, “as President he should forge unity in the Namibian house, not destruction. He must embrace the spirit of forgiveness.”
He accused Geingob of being insecure and using public platforms to attack individuals. “we must find a way to help our President because at this rate he is capable of doing dangerous things.”
Tactics of name-calling and public vilification of others are commonly used in Namibia’s political sphere political organizations, churches, and in so-called public debates.
Last month at Swapo’s central committee meeting in Rundu, according to Diescho, Geingob called him[Diescho] a fool by the President and also slammed for the speech he delivered during one of the memorial services of the late Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab.
She challenged Diescho to reveal his informants. “We further advise Mr. Diescho to engage himself with productive matters instead of wasting his valuable time, self-proclaimed and proclaimed by some as an intellect,” she charged.
Nicanor said Geingob is in no way a proponent of tribalism.
“Thus placing ‘isms’ on our President, is simply an insult on progressive and peace loving Namibians that cannot be left unchallenged,” she said. She did not answer whether the CC meeting discussed anything related to Diescho.
“The President and the entire leadership sees no value neither a standing reason to discuss a person of Diescho. It shall be of free advice that H.E, Dr Geingob is not the type of person that deserves to be labelled as a tribalist,” (sic) she said.
Dr. Freddy Kustaa, a well-known academic at the time said: “Further, it is not surprising that occasionally some of our formally educated intellectuals also resort to this practice of name-calling and public vilification of others even when they know quite well that this is detrimental to the development of a political culture of respect and tolerance in this country.”
“The people expect Namibian intellectuals to engage in exemplary and high quality discourse that serves as a model for how we all can engage in the exchange of ideas in a respectful way without resort to slander, insults, and personal attacks for which there should be no room in a society that seeks to become tolerant and democratic,” he said. The CC meeting also agreed to convene an extraordinary congress to consider proposed amendments to the party constitution and its code of conduct. The extraordinary congress will take place next month.