Saving Hage from the ‘savages’

Dr Hage Geingob is a president under siege, has been for the most part of his time in office but the closer we are getting to Congress, the more and more visible his attackers are. We are now seeing even those who pretended to be on his side show their true colours, in search for the much craved for power. If you love Namibia and everything good this country is capable of achieving, time now to reject this torrents of undeserved attacks towards the head of state.

It is impossible to exaggerate how great President Hage is, and how much our country depends on what he is trying to accomplish. Considering what is going on at the moment in this country, it would be hard to name any one man who is trying to achieve so much for the betterment of people in this country.

President Hage is a man of high principles, a skilled leader of great determination for his courageous conviction even in the face of extreme resistance, doubt and tremendous adversity by those who have chosen to make an enemy out of him. The fierce campaign against him as we see now is motivated by greed, power-hungriness and hatred for the man and will continue even way after he has gotten his second term. It will also keep if President Hage takes us within touching distance of prosperity for all Namibians. His detractors know they cannot fight his values and principles, so they are creating lies that they can throw at him. By the looks of it, we have now developed a culture where we are being led by bitterness, opportunism and power-hungriness. The sense of entitlement and tribalism are right in the middle of it, motivating the ‘savages’.

The ‘savages’ are only basing their remonstrations on character assassinations than try to assassinate the real issues we are facing in this country. All you hear nowadays is ‘Hage this, Hage that,’ and even The Namibian newspaper that has been faking to try to play the middle and be objective in reporting on political matters has in recent times blatantly gone on the offence. When you have what is the leading newspaper in the country running with headlines such as ‘Angula challenges Geingob,’ Iivula-Ithana savages Geingob’ and ‘businessmen dare Geingob on state capture,’ for three days back to back you know there is no guessing where their loyalties is. What is even more saddening is how much this proliferation of raw opinion that passing for news has become the order of the day even in most respected and renown newspapers.

It is a well-known fact that every newspaper, newsroom or news house has an agenda and there is no denying that this has reached its highest in recent times. Some daily and weekly newspaper that used to pride themselves in their unbiased in the past are now at the forefront of creating confusion, punching holes in what is right, and causing a kind of fun-house effect that leaves the reader doubting everything, including real news. What is supposed to be a watchdog is turning into agenda machinery serving sordid agendas and only targeting the President and his administration for what they now call news. They do not just give voice to detractors of our progress, but they also celebrate and parade as heroes by crowing them with comments in their newspapers.

The rise of a powerful and scathing indictment of the many forces trying to undermine the authority of the current administration has been aided by newspapers that exaggerate stories with blown out headlines. The blown out headlines have gone past just catching the reader’s eye on moving units, it is about pushing a particular agenda. ‘Iivula-Ithana savages Geingob’, that’s only one of the most incendiary headlines we just a saw a couple of days ago. If that is not inciting disunity, what is? This might have all began in the life and times of the newsroom, but it has sure gone past that notion into agenda pushing strategies. The rise of anti-establishment sentiment feigned as intellectualism is not only due to the pervasiveness of the internet but to other technologies such as the explosion of agenda serving newsrooms and social media options. We can all concede that journalists do make mistakes, but I stand to argue that the critical point is the ability of the so-called well-informed editors to challenge these errors and lead them to solutions. The Namibian newspaper has to be captured, currently reducing itself to glorifying individuals trying to make this country ungovernable.

Now you might want to ask me. How can we stop those spreading stories purposely geared to discredit the President? Do these stories have that big of an impact on public discourse and the general perception of our President and his government? Does the unique biased way that newspapers are covering and reporting stories affect the general opinion of the country? In a democratic system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying.

When citizens are being fed this biased news, it sways their belief in government and President, and they begin to lose faith in them. Those who would have been neutral would lose their ability to tell real news from fake; they will tend to imbibe on these marginally correct ones because they are usually juicy and exciting, leading to unusual and unrealistic demands for accountability and disrespect for authority. It is the spreading of agenda serving news that brings about personal attacks by members of the public to those in power over them. The marginally correct or exaggerated news articles go viral, while more accurate articles from traditionally unbiased newspapers are ignored. Those who promote conspiracy theories and propaganda live for fake or marginally correct news.

With more news platforms available than ever before, there is an alarming number of people, especially young people in this country, who tend to be credulous and form beliefs based on the latest thing they’ve read. As much as that is worrisome, I can put it to you that it is not the broader problem. The more extensive problem is marginally correct and exaggerated news that has the effect of getting people not to believe real things, that’s why it is safe to argue right now that these media houses know precisely what they are doing, who they are aiding and who they disadvantage. For an average reader out there, there is no way for them to know what is objectively right, so as a result, they will stick to what they are being fed and abandon that urge to look for facts because nobody knows what’s right anyway. But the issue has become a political battering ram, with those pro-establishment publications accusing those anti of trafficking in disinformation meant to confuse, and the anti and mainstream press accusing the pros of tarring them as a way to try to censor and bully them.

This is how in the midst of it all, the definition of marginally accurate news has blurred. Political news nowadays depends on who’s telling it, what would be one group’s medicine is poison to the other. And the dailies are right on the forefront of it; they are a balm for the soul in an anti-establishment world whose narrative of the President and his administration, is nothing short of aiming to diminish him and all that he is trying to accomplish.

The biases have left most of us craving for that great and factual news devoid of agendas. For an everyday Namibian the way political news in newspapers is treated nowadays is like picking through a basket of fruits looking the ripest one. We are no longer looking for stories that raise logical and essential questions, but rather the juiciest of them. I’m genuinely nostalgic for the news of old when unbiased journalists delivered it. The reputation of the press to me has been tarnished, and we as people are left to navigate the fractured landscape on our own. You go on the shelves of an outlet what you see are newspaper headlines that promise more than what the story delivers.

All this is what is crippling the ruling party. Swapo is sick from within, the individual infested with those with a gigantic sense of entitlement. They feel they are more Swapo than others. They are trying to use the party for their selfish ambitions. How is Cde Nahas Angula showing up in the last minutes to try to derail President Hage’s train going to help this country? Swapo is at war with itself. It is at war with itself because not only has it failed to be fair to President Hage but has ultimately failed to provide him with protection our two former presidents enjoyed. Why hasn’t President Hage been accorded the same protection?

Does Swapo not agree with the policy of transparency? Because that’s what President Hage is bringing, he is trying to shine the light brighter into government’s and the Swapo Party’s inner-workings and it appears like someone in Swapo is afraid of that. Someone or rather some people are so scared of the levels to where President Hage has raised accountability and transparency. To try to justify their power-hungriness, everyone is trying to use the protection of the Swapo constitution. Just how is President Hage violating the Swapo Party constitution, by bringing two women and one Kavango man in the top four positions? Former presidents Tate Nujoma and Tate Pohamba were protected by Swapo, and Swapo has not accorded President Hage the same protection that’s why we see that everyone feels they can just up and challenge the President. Swapo needs to grant President Hage more security and more respect. It’s sad to see people talk about President Hage the way they feel and however they feel within Swapo, and there are no repercussions. We did not see that during the times of the Founding Father and Tate Pohamba.

In trying to find solutions, I agree with Hon. Sophia Shaningwa this week when she said that if we respond to their challenges, we will be forced to play in their hands and play by their rules. I believe that all successful campaigns have three simple goals: To win, you must project the image you want to define you; deflect efforts by your rivals to identify you on their terms and set your competitors in your words. That’s why supporters of President Hage shouldn’t be caught up in the small dirty games but instead focus on engaging with delegates to ensure that their objectives are met. The focus should be on playing clean and fair, not reduce themselves to the dirty tricks of the anti-Hage. The supporters should carry a message of hope and unity, and the ‘savages’ on the other hand all they do is just cry foul and character assassinate. Being politically correct and playing the moral high ground has helped, time now to not only guard against these forces but fight back and start lobbying aggressively and truthfully. It started from participating in the party’s restructuring processes that took place in the regions in the last months.

It is good to note that the anti-Hage forces are a serious threat, verbal support for the President is no longer enough. You need to go out there and participate to ensure majority support for Dr.Hage as a candidate for Congress. The haters are determined, time to knock them down. The trick is to surf on this sea of anti-Hage hate and not be drowned by it, so it’s imperative you wake up now and realise that the enemy won’t rest. I tell you Dr Hage’s supporters remain passive and saying ‘Viva Hage’ at your peril, the threat is real. The enemy has united with all sorts of forces including some media houses to fight its war against you. I can assure you that sitting back and hoping that Dr Hage is going to be victorious is dangerous. Talk to delegates to the Congress need to know and understand that “Namibia and the Swapo Party have a place for all of us beyond our tribal and ethical orientation.” Let’s do what is in the better interest of this country, and that is supporting the man who has the benefits of this country at heart.