The blunt statements of Landless People’s Movement (LPM) members Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Seibeb rocked the status quo. Their controversial clap-back to a Swapo MP’s ill-advised use of the Founding President Sam Nujoma’s book in a political context announced that Parliament is no longer controlled by Swapo. All sides of the issue have been active in the mainstream and social media regarding their positions on the matter. It is time to take the high road, deescalate and address the real issues facing the suffering people of Namibia during these tough times.
In emotive issues surrounding the distinguished Founding President, voices of different groups always weigh-in. Anti-Swapo voices always use any opportunity to throw tomatoes at Nujoma, so they are jumping on the bandwagon in this instance as well. They don’t support Swartbooi, they just want a free shot at Nujoma.
Those who hold Nujoma dear are busy trying to outdo each other. They are escalating their protestations of abject loyalty and making veiled threats about Swartbooi, Seibeb and the opposition parties.
The aging war veterans declared that they are ready to go back to the bush to defend Sam Nujoma against all who would dare to insult him.
The youthful supporters of Swartbooi respond: “Bring it on.”
The Swapo trade union comes on board (lest they look as if they aren’t loyal enough to Nujoma) and attacks the Speaker. They slam him for ‘allowing’ such statements to be made (as if he could have done a single thing to stop Swartbooi’s comments).
The supporters of Swartbooi say: “Do it again! Speak your mind, tell them all off. That is why we elected you.”
Then there are the SMS letters from the lemmings who feel that elders should be respected regardless of anything they do. This is a mantra that assumes all ‘elders’ are saints bound for heaven or oracles of absolute wisdom. Still, the chorus of “respect your elders (RYEs) no matter what” is very prevalent. It cannot be dismissed.
Others respond to the RYEs by saying that no one should be silenced about their points of view just because the person who is the target is older. One cannot follow someone over a mountain cliff just in order to respect an elder.
On social media, people whine about their children becoming scarred emotionally as they witness adults bickering on the floor of the Parliament (as if there is no ‘off-button’ on their televisions).
Other social media comments say that while this particular name-calling was extreme, Swapo must now realize that things will no longer go their way in Parliament. They no longer can steamroll other points of view.
A few voices in the debate mention the name-calling that has come from Swapo members over the years in that very same House, “Honourable Puppets…”
We expect to hear from all the organs of Swapo to show their public loyalty to Nujoma too. Surely it is their turn now to condemn the LPM parliamentarians and say how horrible their comments were. They would not want to be left out.
Imagine this scenario. These declarations of loyalty to Nujoma can escalate: “I love my leader” says one. “I love my leader very much,” says the next one. “I completely love my leader with all my heart,” says the next in line. “I love my leader so much I’d die for him,” says the next. And so it goes. We see this trend beginning in terms of the condemnations Swartbooi’s statements.
It is time to turn the page. The points on all sides have been made and escalation does not serve the greater good. In fact, it is a distraction.
COVID-19 infection rates are skyrocketing at an alarming rate. Far too many Namibians are still passé about this ‘little flu.’ Municipality bills are sky-rocketing insanely. The economy continues to tank while the Minister of Finance wastes energy on discussions about a sovereign wealth fund. Jobs are being lost daily and people are receiving half salaries. Some are losing their houses and cars. School fees cannot be paid in several cases. People are defaulting on insurance policies. Citizens languishing in tin shack suburbs are freezing in the winter cold while boiling angry with frustration at poor service delivery. And, previously food secure homes are beginning to wonder if they afford meat anymore.
These are the issues that need to be discussed in the public domain. We need to move on from declarations of outrage about Swartbooi or a Swapo MP pushing an EFF MP. We must get laws in place that give immediate, direct assistance to the people most in need.