I could not help but say a thing or two. I am referring to the short-lived closure of Haihambo Primary School in the Ohangwena region by some citizens suffering from an extreme form of intolerance. This act warrants condemnation and I would herewith join others in banging the drum of condemnation against the backdrop of utter disgust.
Let me not bore you with details, but the whole ‘comedy’ relates to a donation made by the President of the Rally for Democracy and Progress, Hidipo Hamutenya, to Haihambo Primary School and his concomitant patronage. Lest we forgot, Article 20 of the Constitution stipulates that all persons shall have the right to education. The realisation of the latter in practical terms is a different kettle of fish and is beyond the purview of my submission. Sub section two of the same Article states that “primary education shall be compulsory and the State shall provide reasonable facilities to render effective this right for every resident in Namibia by establishing and maintaining State schools at which primary education will be provided free of charge”.
Blinded by an uninformed party-political loyalty which seems to have reached frightening proportions, a bunch of miscreants decided to conspicuously molest the Namibian Constitution by denying innocent children their constitutionally enshrined right, i.e. the right to education. It was recently editorialised that political parties should provide political education to their supporters (see The Namibian: p. 11, September 07 2012), and this was spot on. What are we teaching our children? That those with different political beliefs are enemies? That we should settle differences through violence? The ‘us’ and ‘them’ hogwash?
By the look of things some Swapo members have a diminished tolerance threshold and now there is an attempt to cascade that intolerance onto innocent school learners. That’s political dogmatism at variance with allowing young minds to blossom in an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual understanding. It is instructive that South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA) in August 2012 laid criminal charges with the police after pupils in Northern Cape were prevented from attending school by service delivery protestors (see the Mail & Guardian, August 31 2012).
Perhaps we should also consider translating the Constitution into all Namibian vernaculars, for some in our midst might unwittingly contravene the Constitution. Or has this already been done? Apart from English, the other version of the Constitution I have seen is in Afrikaans. Section 34 of the Education Act, Act No. 16 of 2001, provides for the closure of State school or hostel. In terms of this section, only the Minister of Education is empowered to close a State school or hostel on grounds of health or public interest amongst others. The law is clear and suggestively states that no ‘renegades’ should take it upon themselves to usurp constitutional and statutory provisions governing the affairs of the land.
As the saying goes, ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it’. I wish to sign off by appealing to fellow Namibians to at least tolerate one another if appreciating one another is too tall an order. Namibia is bigger than our different political parties, and we would err if a citizen’s contribution to national development is subjected to the prism of party political colours.
Suffice it to ask, did HH cease to be a Namibian citizen when he left the ruling party? The decision by the Minister of Education to forthwith re-open the school is commendable notwithstanding that he seemingly gave in to political pressure by transferring the principal to another school in the interim. I am convinced that we as Namibians have what it takes to transcend the political immaturity manifested by the Haihambo Primary School’s ‘comedy’. A condemnation from the ‘Auasblick palace’ would have been appropriate.