But they seldom turn the mirror on themselves. And whereas I’m a strong advocate of a professional, ethical and accountable fourth estate, the politicians they report on often leave a lot to be desired in terms of their behavioural code, self-restraint and accountability to the public is concerned.
THE way in which Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) handled the recent car accident in which the presidential hopeful, Local Government and Housing Minister Jerry Ekandjo was NOT involved, is a case in point; as is their handling of controversial comments around the Swapo presidential race on SPYL’s Facebook page.
While they don’t hesitate to stifle dissent by censoring/suspending their Facebook page and shutting down debate; they are just as quick to risk inflaming public opinion by labelling the Ekandjo ‘accident’ an assassination attempt. Coming as it does in the tense atmosphere preceding the Swapo Congress later this month, these words and actions are hardly the height of public responsibility on their part.
But they went further than simply saying that unless proven otherwise, SPYL was of the belief that “this was nothing but a political assassination attempt on the life of Comrade Jerry Ekandjo”. They implied that the death in 2008 of former Swapo stalwart, John Pandeni, was also no accident. This is both actionable and irresponsible speech.
The most recent SPYL utterances do come as something of a surprise to me, because I note that the SPYL Secretary, Elijah Ngurare, who must be responsible for all statements in the name of the organisation he leads, has of late become far more progressive-minded and open as an individual. Open to discussion and debate and even disagreement, working hard as a political office-bearer as he criss-crosses the country organising for the candidate of his choice; active and responsive on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, he has become far more approachable and is showing more circumspection than before. Which is why it is incomprehensible to note that at the same time SPYL is breeding more ‘conspiracy theorists’ of the likes of Job Amupanda, the new ‘spokesperson’ who apparently authored the Ekandjo statement.
Amupanda himself boasts of his educational background, even appending to all SPYL press releases his personal CV, and yet is dangerously close to the edge when it comes to his political opinions.
SPYL needs to think through the consequences of a statement alleging an ‘assassination’ attempt on Ekandjo, especially when the candidate himself went on record as saying he believed there was no foul play. Immediately, less discerning Namibians would begin to jump to conclusions about who such plotters could be, and given the heat of the race between the three candidates, may well imply that one of the other two could be responsible. This in turn could escalate political tensions and emotions to an unmanageable level.
The responsible thing for the SPYL to do under the circumstances was to wait for the outcome of the investigation into the cause of the accident, which could as well be due to shoddy mechanics in the government garage, since the vehicle was a pool car and not even Ekandjo’s personal vehicle. This they failed to do. Instead they put out the ‘rumour’ of an assassination attempt, perhaps also unaware that they themselves could be accused of trying to engender a ‘sympathy’ vote for their candidate in the process.
Ngurare needs to take tight rein on his people and oversee all public statements by SPYL to prevent bringing it into disrepute.
It is also almost incomprehensible to think that with all the talk of ‘unity’ within the ranks of Swapo, SPYL would want to nurture the belief that things have approached the point where it’s so bad that they’ve descended to the level of wanting to kill one another!
While SPYL makes inflammatory statements on the one hand; it cannot on the other censor debate on the grounds that such has become personal and insulting to the candidates. This makes no sense at all. SPYL itself needs to be consistent and avoid public incitement at all costs.
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