Why does the law not protect the sitting president?
By Martin (Bazooka) Nanyemba
a) The Treacherous Pen
Do the Namibian Constitution and the law legally protect a sitting president such as President Dr. Hage Geingob, when baseless suggestions of corruption without any shred of evidence are made by the freedom of expression abusers such as The Namibian’s cartoonist Dudley?
When a story is published on the front page of the same newspaper under the headline, ‘Swiss flag Sardarov’s N$21m Namandje payment’ in which a link is invented between how the lawyer Sisa Namandje received N$21 million from a sales transaction of four farms by Rashid Sardarov, a Russian billionaire investor in Namibia, and the President’s inauguration of Namandje‘s company’s head office.
And just beneath the cartoon, an article by the editor’s guest is published, headlined, ‘Namibia’s graduate unemployment crisis threatens peace and stability’, in which talk of revolution and Arab Spring from frustrated, angry and unemployed youths and graduate youths feature prominently, then we should be wary of the fact that there is an underlying desire in certain quarters of the media, and amongst some tribally minded bitter politicians to incite and where possible, even to aid regime change.
However, the most insidious message of the newspaper is revealed with the depiction on page 11, where a cartoon is drawn of the President under the headline, ‘Unashamed looters’, with a Pinocchio like nose stuffed with dollars and most importantly the quotation, “Thanks Rashid, uh, as I was saying, my government takes corruption very seriously! We’ve been perfecting the art for over 30 years.”
There is nothing satirical about this cartoon, due to its positioning, context, and linkages. Instead, it alludes not so subtly that the President is corrupt, a liar, a looter, and somehow that he is thanking Rashid (a direct reference to the front page lead story of impropriety in which Rashid Sardarov is cited). The cartoonist’s quoted message is conveying an implied suggestion that the Namibian government has become perfectly good at practicing corruption over the 30 years.
This blanket indictment of the government as some corrupt cabal is an affront to the thousands of hard working men and women who have laboured pre and post-independence to see to it that Namibia becomes a fundamentally sound, peaceful and stable democracy.
Have there been faults? Yes, as in every democracy on earth, things have not always been perfect but to allude to the fact that the Namibian government has done nothing for 30 years but perfected corruption speaks to the deep-rooted and latent European racist ideology that has always viewed Africans as inferior, backwards and barbaric. Sadly, this view has been adopted by some African lackeys and Afro-pessimists who perpetuate this belief that Africans are too backward to govern themselves and are only good at looting state resources.
In all nations, there have been individuals or groups who have committed major transgressions under the seduction of power and wealth. We may one day find out that the Fishrot accused fit this description. However, the desperation to link these individuals to the President and thereby directly implicate him in their dealings is preposterous. For some reason, these incidents must result in the Head of State, the entire Government and SWAPO Party being labelled as corrupt. It reminds one of the racist thinking that “all you black people are the same”.
It also makes me recall a certain Bernie Madoff, who to date is responsible for the biggest ever Ponzi-scheme in history. In his heydays Madoff rubbed shoulders with America’s political elite, Hollywood moguls and other affluent members of society. In fact, Madoff is reported to have donated more than US$370 000 to various politicians on Capitol Hill, amongst these, Senator Hillary Clinton. Does the fact that Madoff, of Jewish origin, was caught and convicted of serious financial crimes automatically make all American politicians and elites thieves? Does this make all people of Jewish background schemers and crooks? Does the fact that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an agency of the US Government, couldn’t catch Madoff, automatically imply that the US Government and its President were in on the scheme? No, it definitely does not. So why in instances when an individual or individuals of African origin are accused or convicted of corruption does that become an automatic indictment of the entire government or the head of state? Like I said, it stems from the belief that, “all you black people are the same”. This is pure, blatant and vile racism.
b) Demonising and Dehumanising the President
Clearly if put together, the front page story, the despicable cartoon, and the youth unemployment revolution story, are meant to evoke negative emotions and actions by presenting a public profile of the President as a callous, corrupt person, a person without morals, a looter of great proportions, a liar who is not ashamed of his corrupt practices.
It is the same deceitful style of innuendos and insinuations used to character assassinate the President, as was the case with the ‘Boss of the bosses’ headline weeks ago in the same newspaper; once again inventing a linkage without any tangible shred or a morsel of evidence between the President and those implicated in the Fishrot corruption case. Of course, the purpose in both publications are with a clear ‘Namibian Spring’ in mind as the end objective to demonise and dehumanise the President, as “evil and wicked,” and thereby incite an incensed society against the President and his government.
With their Pinocchio depictions, regime changers are schooled in the dark magic arts of media and social media manipulation and propaganda to transform a perfectly upright human being instantly overnight into a ‘demon enemy’, and to drive through such lies and innuendos to the ignorant public and youths to crazy frenzies of social disobedience. We should be mindful that revolutions are not peaceful and sociable tea parties. They are bloody violent, gruesome and traumatising events on a grand scale, which mostly damage and irrevocably destroy the lives of the poorest of the poor, and not the racist/tribal bigoted orchestrators from abroad or from their bourgeoisie offices, using irresponsibly the power of the pen. Revolutions far from producing democracy, peace and prosperity, ultimately beget unrealised aspirations, failed countries and warlordism, as is the case now in Libya, Syria and Somalia.
c) Whose job is it to protect the President?
In the midst of this barrage of falsities and blatant character assassination of the head of state from many quarters, one begs the question, whose job and duty is it, when a viciously stinging attack is launched against the sitting President of the Republic by regime change proponents, to courageously protect the President?
Does the attack against the President not constitute an attack on the government? Is the President not the personification of the democratic values, norms and mores of the nation that has directly elected him as its protector? Or does it mean that when the symbols of justice, liberty and equality of the Namibian society embodied in the President is attacked; we should cowardly stand aside for the President to fend off the attacks in his personal capacity?
Are we saying the President should in his personal capacity hire lawyers to counter politically motivated onslaughts and vilifications designed to destroy the Namibian Government? What type of (common sense) nonsense is that? The fact that the rest of us choose to be passive onlookers while our principal protector is under attack, is an indictment on our resolve and character. It is shameful that we have spinelessly agreed to sacrifice the President and therefore our principles as an inclusive, democratic, and brave nation.
Within the provisions of the Namibian Constitution and law what can be done, to safeguard the well-being of the sitting President, and to ensure that he is not denigrated, insulted, humiliated and delegitimised to the extent that he is magically transformed into a ‘demon/Satan/enemy’ of the Namibian Realm. A cursory look into the Constitution and laws indicates that there are no such protections. Thus, why don’t we consider embedding them to protect the dignity of the President’s Office? The point of this opinion is not to propagate for blanket protections in the presence of clear criminal evidence of wrong doing, but against wicked and manipulative insinuations, denigrations, emotional abuse and bullying, with the sole purpose to unseat a democratically elected President through underhand undemocratic means, merely premised on political differences of opinion.
*Look out for Part 2 of this article in our next edition