PDM rejects Ombudsman’s findings

Clifton Movirongo

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has rejected and hit out at the Ombudsman, accusing him of being “captured” after he absolved President Hage Geingob for allegedly inciting racial hatred against white people.

This comes after Geingob, during the launch of the ruling party’s campaign for the upcoming elections last month, said he has noted a trend in which white Namibians have been registering themselves to vote “in big numbers”, accusing them of conspiring to vote for “anything else but Swapo”, a development, the President said, was a declaration of war against Swapo, despite the ruling party having had made sure that they [white Namibians] enjoy peace, unity and comfort for “all this time”.

“The PDM totally rejects the findings that the Ombudsman made in his report, and it is regrettable that he chooses to defend the President rather than protect the fundamental rights of the Namibian people, as guaranteed by Article 17 of the Namibian constitution,” PDM Secretary-General, Manuel Ngaringombe, said. “Our suspicions is that the Ombudsman is captured by those in the Executive realm of government have now been confirmed.”

Ngaringombe said the leadership of the PDM has convened for an emergency meeting to pave the way forward, which may include a legal review of the report of the Ombudsman.

Ombudsman, John Walters, said in his report that “the objectionable utterances, viewed contextually, were not likely to bring about hatred between different racial groups or between persons belonging to different groups”. Furthermore, Walters added that the “objectional utterances read in context of the speech as a whole do not constitute a violation of white peoples’ Article 17 constitutional rights”.

According to the PDM, President Geingob’s statements at a SWAPO event on 17 October intimidated the white community. As a result a complaint was filed against President Geingob by the PDM on 19 October with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The opposition party was calling for the President to retract his statements, which they said infringed on white voters’ right to participate in political activity without coercion, force or intimidation.

The political code of conduct guiding the behaviour of political parties and candidates during an election speaks against political hate speech, and voter intimidation by political parties, registered organisations or any office bearer or member of such party. Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is empowered by the code to cancel the registration of the political party or organisation, after having given the political party, organisation or authorised representative an opportunity to be heard.

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