By Kelvin Chiringa
President Hage Geingob is coming under increasing pressure from organised movements almost half-way towards the election date but political observers have voiced that he should not be seen to be pleasing everyone in this tough economic climate.
On the 18th of this month, a horde of taxi drivers under the ambit of the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) will march to statehouse demanding that he address their economic woes.
The anticipated march also supersedes one from the country’s three biggest universities and various other tertiary institutions in which students protested the dumping of 12 000 students from being bankrolled by the Namibia Students Financial Assistance Fund.
More pressure is also being applied by the biggest teachers union, (NANTU) which wants a hike in teachers’ salaries while the Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) is bracing itself to hit the Office of the Prime Minister with another salary hike demand.
In the meantime, the President has sent a begging bowl to citizens to contribute part of their salaries towards drought relief and youth related projects.
Faced with this tremendous pressure while the economy is in turmoil, experts have said that the President should avail the opportunity for all affected parties to express themselves.
However, considering the vitriolic language used by NTTU’s vibrant leader, Werner Januarie, it is unlikely that Geingob, who is on record recently snubbing a meeting with them, will this time come out for talks.
Asked if the President is prepared to meet with the taxi drivers this time, Statehouse press secretary Dr.
Alfredo Hengari said, “President Hage G. Geingob is a promoter of institutions and has directed the Taxi Union to the line ministry.” Academic and respected political analyst, Ndumba Kamwanyah has expressed that the President can only avoid the taxi drivers at his own peril, especially in this year where political parties are vying for votes via undermining each other.
Januarie has been on record stating that Geingob, by avoiding meeting with them and addressing their demands, was “acting like a cry baby” and took another shot proclaiming, “we will not worship Geingob”.
Activist at the Citizens for an Accountable and Transparent Society (CATS) is convinced the envisaged taxi drivers’ march to Statehouse has been doomed from the start.
“What are their concerns? That is nonsense. You must abide by the rule. You cannot just break the rules and say I want this done. That is where they lose my sympathy, honestly. Rules are there for everybody. I am checking here this school at the Dutch Reformed Church. The City of Windhoek has made here nice places for the taxies to stop but where do they stop? On that red line at the corner where all traffic is congested,” she said.
This time though, said Kamwanyah, unless the President is held up by administrative issues, will have to show his face.
“That is the nature of the job; unfortunately you are the President not just of your won supporters or the people that love you. You are the President of those that differ with you, that don’t like you, including those that you may not want to meet and see. It’s a catch-22 for him. Of course he has the prerogative in not wanting to meet up with them.
He finds himself in a very difficult situation because one; when you look at the economic situation in the country, it generates that discontent. Of course there is also politics involved. But there are many challenges, we have drought, we have unemployment and the perception that there is a corruption problem,” said the analyst.
Sources who have spoken to The Patriot have in the meantime confided that the President wishes to run for his second term before handing over the reins of power to his second in command, Vice President Mbumba.
Geingob’s Harambee hype-train has also been derailed by a series of economic contractions worsened by the slowed global economic activity.
However, experts from PSG Konsult Group Namibia have lately predicted a Geingob victory, while the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) notes that according to the most recent Afro barometer survey, the share of Namibians who think the economy is doing poorly is at a historic high; triple the proportion in 2014, and almost two-thirds say the government is doing a bad job of managing the economy.