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Wednesday 19 February 2020
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SONA: Towards empty political rhetoric

Recently, Tate Hage Geingob delivered his State of the Nation Address (SONA). With all honesty it was the state of politics with ‘Namibia’ accidentally slipped into the speech by the speech writers. Nearly two weeks later, I’m still wondering how these people can keep their jobs.
In everything that the President said, it failed to capture the present worry of the nation – plummeting economy. Moreover, it failed to inspire hope amid growing worries. At some point it felt like extracts from a political philosophy textbook with beautiful American quotations, but conceptually and contextual divorced. To that end, it was a beautiful political speech with everything but nothing to say.
I was embarrassed on behalf of my president, as the speech felt like something deliberately designed to ensure public embarrassment. It placed no challenge, it offered no solution and has been a repetition of everything we’ve heard before.
Well, there were two moments which were highlights. One, the near admission regarding the viability of the HPP and the call for foreign investors to come on our terms. These were bright moments but they didn’t inspire hope and neither did they give us any reason why we should trust that these were going to be backed with action.
The president, I think, would have gained more credibility had he admitted to the total failure of the HPP and called for its scrapping. Sadly, he lost that moment. As far as Chinese investors are concerned, we should cast off all hope here, they own our politicians, if not the entire government by now. Indicating the self-contradictory and self-defeating nature of the SONA.
I don’t want the public to think that Tate Geingob’s entire administration is a flop. But I do think that the nature of the SONA simply demonstrated the self-disempowerment of the administration which thought of itself of growing only in mathematical terms. It over-promised the nation, over-staffed itself and now overwhelmed by the self-made structural enslavement. Such that the president wouldn’t even admit at how wasteful this level of administration has been.
We thought that the SONA should’ve been a moment of accounting. 2019 is ending the first term of Tate Geingob’s presidency but we were met with a shallow and condescending national address. I like Tate Geingob as a person, he’s a warm personality but defensive in his politics.

 

This was obvious during the questions and answers session. I can’t recall any question being answered with the weight it deserved. In that manner, Tate Geingob gave a feel of the SONA being simply a ceremonious occasion to speak to the nation, not as a moment of accounting.
It’s by any definition sad to see how such a moment has been wasted and plunged us back to our state of hopelessness. This indicates a false view of politics which prides itself with beautiful words, party ideologies and personal preservation. We’re not a people who need well written speeches anymore, the degree of our problems as a nation, require a vision. A vision that will inspire hope. A leadership that will lead by actions. A government that seeks to improve the living standards of its people.
That we should be served with ceremonious speeches that don’t cut at the real issues that are affecting us, is an insult. It’s an insult of the public’s trust.
We expected more and we received not even a fragment of our expectations from the SONA. Some of us were ready to disown the president as ours because of that speech, the speech was way too foreign.
We’ve come a long way, nearly 30 years of independence. By this time, we should’ve realised that we can no longer afford to run modern politics simply by speeches. Modern politics is deeply practice oriented. It needs to address solutions to the crumbling state of things. For example, the deteriorating public institutions, administrative corruption and thievery, unemployment of university graduates, increasing costs of living etc.
I’m not a prophet, but I’m certain that Tate Geingob will win one more term. What we would like to see is a radical change to his way of doing politics. That the presidency of this country has never been about him, but about the people who placed their trust in him, as a leader.
Will the president make up for his failure in this year’s SONA, in the new manifesto? How would he restore the public’s trust in his leadership and government (which is quite a wasteful one in the time of recession)?
The issue here is that the public has lost trust in the current administrations ability to deliver on its promises. There is also a general distrust that it knows how to get us out of this economic recession we’re in (besides worming Calle Schlettwein). And the SONA missed to restore that trust.
I hope that in this year’s campaigning manifesto, the president will have a chance to redeem himself. SWAPO will win the elections but will the president win the nation over, given his present track record?

Disclaimer: These are my own opinions and do not represent the views of my employer or its associate.




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