Statehouse has denied that President Hage Geingob told the central community members to “go to hell” after they failed to sing party songs.
The widely circulated video shows Geingob, flanked by the Swapo Party secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa, slumping onto their seats, dismayed that the members had not sung as expected.
Geingob can be heard saying: “They can go to hell” on a Facebook live-stream of the event in Windhoek on Saturday.
On Sunday, State House said the President was responding to a conversation that had nothing to do with the members failure to sing.
“Contrary to false allegations, at no point did the President say to the Members of the Central Committee “to go to hell”.
“Some media in this country tend to distort, resort to falsehoods and sensational headlines when they should be providing news factually. These tendencies erode confidence in the quality of our democracy,” said the statehouse statement.
However, this statement has been criticised as a lousy attempt by State House to manage the crisis over a video everyone saw and heard.
Clinical psychologist and political commentator Shaun Whitaker said this is yet another propaganda exercise by the presidential press team, which he characterised as disingenuous.
“Unfortunately, if you listen to the clip, you can hear the President say those words, and it is very, very shocking for the President to be so uncouth, so disrespectful towards these Swapo members.
“You do not expect the President of the ruling party, the President of the country to engage with other party members (and) fellow citizens in that kind of way. It is completely out of line. It is completely uncalled for,” he said.
The clinical psychologist further observes that it reflects the deep crisis within the ruling party and the country in general.
“Swapo is in political trouble. It is losing support. The last elections show that Swapo will continue to lose support simply because people have different perceptions about Swapo.
“And in so many ways, the writing is on the wall for the party. The country is really in a mess politically and economically. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, we have massive homelessness, we have hunger (and) malnutrition, and there is no doubt that the Swapo project is over,” he said.
Over the weekend, Geingob appealed to his supporters to show energy, saying that some hesitated to wear their party colours.
He also criticised the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) for coming out to accept mistakes in the Ndonga Linena disputed ballot where Swapo had initially won.
He admitted that the party was humiliated, urging his rank and file to not act like underdogs.
He also railed against the official opposition, the PDM, which he labelled DTA by its long-dumped name for calling Swapo a band of puppets and sell-outs.
However, Whitaker has said that the President’s utterances over the weekend were shocking and should not be used for party members.
He added that such a statement negatively affected the party’s already demoralised rank and file.
“It reflects a profound disrespect. A culture of disrespect within the ruling party. It reflects a history of an autocratic culture within the organisation. You have this top-down culture where people are expected to be subservient, to do what the leadership wants. That, of course, is completely unacceptable,” he said.
Meanwhile, Statehouse maintains that the President of the SWAPO Party has “esteem and affection for the fundamental institution of the Central Committee and comrades in the SWAPO Party in general”.
“The meeting of the Central Committee went extremely well, and the President thanked the comrades of the CC for the fruitfulness of the deliberations wholeheartedly,” said Statehouse.
In 2014, the former president Hifikepunye Pohamba had to ask the then Swapo secretary-general now vice president Nangolo Mbumba to apologise for calling people aafyoona.
Mbumba made the remark during Swapo’s closing rally at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek.
As the party’s secretary-general, Mbumba had the role of welcoming Pohamba to the stage.
He said: omake aafyoona nye (clap hands you poor people).
Later, Mbumba admitted that he said this because he was excited.
“I was out of line,” Mbumba admitted later. “I was happy. I did not mean to call people poor.”
Mbumba also said he did not want to say much apart from apologizing to the people.
“I do not want to blame others. I blame myself. I only wish that they accept my sincere apology,” he said.