Former Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda’s latest stunts on eating dog meat bear the classic hallmarks of just another opportunistic politician interested in self-promotion.
It’s also a reminder of the danger of personalised politics.
In a video shared over the weekend, Amupanda is seen posing eating dog meat at a market – fuelling debate about the legality and ethics surrounding the killing and consumption of dogs.
The dog-eating debate is complex and controversial. For some, it is taboo. For others, it is par for the course.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals condemned the slaughtering of dogs for human consumption and said the current methods are inhumane.
It also cited “dogs’ long-standing role as companion animals, and public health risks associated with the consumption of eating dog meat”.
Those like Amupanda advocate that dogs should be slaughtered and eaten like anything that can be eaten.
“Our people have been enjoying this meat for hundreds of years, and they will not stop no matter what white people and their puppets say,” he charged.
Amupanda has a point. In some countries and communities, eating dog meat is regarded as normal.
For others, though, pets provide important benefits, ranging from companionship and improving mental health to facilitating rescues during natural disasters and being trackers, guards and the helpers of people with disabilities.
Either way, Amupanda has no excuse to use foul and hateful language.
“Next time I see my name in your statements, you will all Nya [sh*t],” he reacted to threats of a lawsuit from an animal welfare organisation.
Amupanda’s approach reeks of someone who wants to hijack an important conversation to boost his own popularity as he continues to campaign for next year’s presidential elections.
Amupanda has, over the years, sold himself as a corruption buster and land activist.
In most cases it has been about himself and his interests. For instance, his land activism landed him plots in Windhoek and Henties Bay.
When voters focus on the personalities of politicians rather than their policies, it can be difficult to hold them accountable for their actions as they are more likely to vote for a candidate based on charisma or likeability than on their record.
We could not put it better than former Affirmative Repositioning spokesperson Simon Amunime, who claimed to have advised Amupanda about his approach.
“I advised Amupanda to refrain from personal attacks, spreading hate and insulting individuals, because those are not the values of leadership,” Amunime said.
It seems Amupanda did not heed the advice.
If anything, the current debate should allow Namibians to hear each other out.
We won’t solve our differences by shouting at each other or racially attacking others.
We don’t have to agree with one another, but we should at least make an effort to understand each other’s views.