More action than words needed from Geingob

Swapo presidential candidate Hage Geingob has all the time to fulfil his campaign promises.

However, more action is needed to bring tangible results, analysts have said.

Geingob’s campaign promises have been best described by prominent political analyst Hoze Riruako as beyond partisan lines and appealing to Namibia’s socio-political divide.

He says the president is well-advised to seek the comradeship of party members after the chaos of campaigns and congress have subsided. 

“You are listening to a person who is the sitting president, and you also have to understand that he has a blueprint or a strategy for the rest of the tenure as the president of the country.

“Now if we start with the political party, if you go back to the previous three congresses, you must understand that the comrades have been at the throats of each other. 

"They have been fighting, ridiculing and blackmailing each other. So if the president would want to have a coherent, respected and sought-after political party he must do everything in his power to inculcate and to give impetus to the whole essence of comradeship,” he explicated. 

He said guarding of the party against disintegration would be the more vital especially as the political divide enters national presidential election season in 2018.

With many opposition key figures joining the Swapo wagon, Riruako opines that the president has his foot in the right direction in seeking to increase membership and building on the motion set by these new entrances.

“The other thing also is Swapo has been growing, in fact, the majority of the opposition party’s support has been dwindling. 

"We have seen key opposition leaders joining the ruling party. Over the weekend we had Kaura. We have a former member of parliament from Nudo as well as one of its council members,” he said.

“I am convinced that the president would want to build on to that to make sure that Swapo becomes, even more, stronger,” he said. 

Political commentator and rights activist, Carola Engelbrecht, has however questioned where the funds for the implementation of many of the infrastructure and money intensive programs in Geingob’s promises will come from. 

“All these things that he wants to do about the school feeding program and so on, how is he going to do it with the problem that we have with the money? Where will the money come from?” she queried.

She said while the school feeding program is well advised, but the focus should be on how nutritious this food would be to more effectively rein in on stunting. 

“I am very worried that we have lots and lots of children because the parents are spending so much money on alcohol and other things and not feeding their children properly that we have a lot of children with very limited brain capacity. We need the next generation to be sharp. How nutritious will the program be?” she said.

On whether the president will have enough time to finish implementing all his promises, Riruako was optimistic. 

“The president has been in office only for two and a half years. He still has two and a half years of the founding years of his presidency. From the looks of things, he is assured to rule for another five years. 

"You are talking about seven and a half additional years from today. I think he has enough time to implement his programs. Take a look at Obama. He used about eight years to transform the American economy right after the economic meltdown. Hage will have almost about the same amount of time to take the country in the direction in which he wishes to take it,” he said. 

Riruako submits that clamping down on corruption remains high on the presidential agenda and the fact that he stopped some inflated tenders is demonstrative of his ability to handle such cases. 

“His minister of finance has been involved in trying to make sure that government resources are utilised most prudently and optimally. 

"That also included some austerity measures. The president is in the driving seat of this ship would want to perpetuate that further and make sure that corruption doesn’t take away from what they are trying to save. So he has shown that by action that he doesn’t like corruption” he said.

Engelbrecht said there is a need to see the president putting more weight on the anti-corruption drive and maintaining a healthy stance against it.

“We have not seen anything serious except on paper or him saying it, but we do not see the commensurate action by the president,” she countered. 

She says the president’s silence on the genocide lawyers and soft approach to the Anti-Corruption Commission does not give much confidence that he will do more to put a lid on graft.

“He should have spoken out against these genocide things, these lawyers that are in the UK. He should have called Paulus Nao to order publicly that listen you do not have to be afraid of me. I am the one who appointed you. I am expecting you to do investigations without fear or favour according to the law and stop your excuses. This is what we want to see Hage saying,” she said. 

She stamped that the president should not be seen in public brushing shoulders and conduct deals with controversial personalities like the Chinese mogul Jack Huang

“Unfortunately, there are other people behind it, and he is now proceeding with that Chinese businessman who didn’t get the airport tender, to develop a township. We are baffled. What he says and what is happening are two different things.”

“He has told others to say either you do politics or you do business, now he comes with this development which is continuing, why is he not putting it on hold. If you expect other politicians to follow the ethical way, you must lead by example,” said Engelbrecht.

Riruako said the president has the challenge to make sure that he leaves behind a well-organised party.

“Whatever the president should be doing, if he wants to keep running a very strong party, if he wants to leave a very strong party once his tenure is over, is to try to harmonise the different views in the party. To try to ameliorate any differences that are in the party. It is in his best interest to run a coherent and well-organised party.” 

“As we have seen that Namibia has had a perfect transition from one president to the other, he would want to work hard to make sure that when it is time for him to go after his tenure, he leaves the party intact. That is why it is very important,” he said.

He has lauded the fact that GRN had to move in “fast enough” to the SME’s issue by bolstering support of the sector through leveraging on the Developmental Bank of Namibia (DBN).

“On the issue of the SMEs, they have been viewed for too long as an engine for growth in this country. It is one way where the previously disadvantaged Namibians can join the bandwagon of the mainstream business.” 

“The closure of the SME bank is a very unfortunate phenomenon, but I think what the government did was a very smart move. To immediately task the development bank to take the role of the SME bank. So all is not lost.”

“If you remember, initially the development bank was providing SMEs with the services that they needed. It’s only that after some years, there was a feeling that the development bank must provide more established entities with finances. But it has the division that had for a long time run the SME sector. So its, not something new,” he said. 

Another political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah has said whatever promises that are being made should be realistic.

“That’s where we should evaluate these candidates. It’s not just Hage Geingob. When they are making such claims that they are going to do all those things, they should give us a clear indication regarding where is the money going to come from. It’s different to state things and to implement them, especially in the time of this financial crunch,” he said.

He said all candidates have to be questioned and held to account based on promises in tandem with results. 

“That’s where the loopholes are. We let these candidates make a lot of promises, but we do not question them on the specifics and the detail of the programs especially linking them to how they are going to be implemented and what resources will be needed,” he said. 

He added, “The nature of our politics, unfortunately, is not that critical that we let them tell us all these promises because they know that nobody is going to question them.”

That the president had a lot to promise with very few that have been achieved is where his shortcomings emanate from, the analyst said. 

“He promised too much in the previous campaign and also when he came into office. When you look at the actual implementation, really, a lot has not been done. He should have used that advantage now if he had implemented a lot to show that proof that look when I went into the office, this is what I implemented. Now he finds himself still promising,” said Kamwanyah. 

He said the president should not come up with new programs and appear as if he is starting again.

The analyst is not entirely convinced that the president will live up to his promises on corruption, judging by how he has tackled graft so far. 

“Well, we can also judge him from what he has been doing up to now. Corruption was one of his main themes. But a lot of things have happened, and we didn’t hear him pronouncing himself on major issues that have major corruption implications like the legal fee monies,” he said.