By: Kelvin Chiringa
Swapo party Secretary-General, Sophia Shaningwa, has been criticised for making offside, ignorant and insensitive comments when she told party followers Wednesday morning that the party can build hospitals if the community wants one.
During the Swapo meeting, Shaningwa said that the party had land to build a hospital and just needed investors, adding, “If the community wants us to build a hospital, Swapo will do it.”
Her comments were immediately received by a hostile social media reaction, with some questioning whether the ruling party wasn’t aware of the needs of the people on the ground.
Some said her talk was symptomatic of a party in the aftermath of an election where it came out victorious after a litany of promises begging for votes.
Shaningwa was attempting to respond to concerns that the party had invested millions of Namibian dollars in a state of the art HQ adjacent to a dilapidated state hospital, a criticism Swapo has had to bear with for the better of the construction.
However, the Trade Union Congress of Namibia (Tucna) leader, MahongoraKavihuha, has said that she will likely be reprimanded by some within the party ranks who may have been offended by her remarks.
“She must be very sensitive. Some so many people are supporting her political party but who are suffering as a result of travelling long distances, a lack of space and mattresses in hospital. I do not know whether she was too emotional that she could not listen to herself when she was making that comment.
“But it is an unfortunate comment for the society that is highly unequal, swimming in a sea of poverty and one that is eager and thirsty for quality health facilities. We are worried about those types of comments. Under their positions, I know they can afford the most expensive health facilities, but for us, this is misplaced, and she needs to retract,” he said.
Shaningwa’s comments are also reminiscent of a time in 2014 when her predecessor and now Vice President, NangoloMbumba, had to apologise for infamously saying, Omakeaafyoonanye, translated to “Clap hands you poor people” at a Swapo rally.
Mbumba admitted that he was “consumed with excitement and seized by the moment” when he made such an utterance.
Also, lately, President Hage Geingob had to be dragged through live coals of criticism when he told young people at the statehouse that the government was not God to create jobs for them.
Some felt this was misplaced, especially coming from a president working for the government for the better part of his life.
“Now it is the SG who says, “if you want, we will give you that”, as if she doesn’t know what the people want. I am sure that it is high time that courses should be offered on how politicians should respond, and how politicians should make public statements that are not insulting, that are not insensitive, and that is not sounding so ignorant and also, in some instances, very childish,” said Mahongora.