Mushelenga urges observance of official condolence protocol

Peya Mushelenga

Information and communication technology minister Peya Mushelenga has called on the public to refrain from creating their own books of condolence for president Hage Geingob.

He says only the designated books of condolence are in place at specific venues.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a media briefing at the Government Information Centre yesterday.

“People should only use official books,” he said.

Designated books of condolence are accessible to the public at various locations, including the official residence of the late president at Casa Rosalia, the Office of the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Office of the Prime Minister, regional council offices, the Office of the Chief Justice, as well as all missions abroad.

Mushelenga also said regional government offices should only host events in memory of the late president under the directive of the central government.

“We, therefore, request all three tiers of government, before they organise any official mourning gathering for the late president, it should be coordinated with the national preparatory committee,” said Mushelenga.

Mushelenga said daily services at the official residence are open to the public.

However, individuals or choirs wishing to perform or deliver messages must contact the office of the executive director in the information ministry.

“It will be channeled to the family to make the decision on who will perform and on which date,” he said.

Mushelenga also directed government agencies and state-owned enterprises to suspend their official ceremonies or keep them to a minimum.

He emphasised that any fanfare associated with such ceremonies be suspended.

Mushelenga also called for the nation to remain calm during the mourning period.

“The national mourning [period] is not different from mourning in our cultures. It’s a time to reflect, to ponder and to respect the spirit of the departed one,” he said.

Daily two hour services in memory of the late president started yesterday.

The services will be held at 18h00 at Casa Rosalia.

Legal practitioner Bernard Tjatjara has called on parliament to pass a law setting a standard for presidential funerals, which will cater for former presidents as well.

“For example, the mourning period, for how many days, how the flag should be flown during that period, how the procession and convoy honouring the deceased president will be and where and when the body would lie in state,” he said.

The South African government is one of the countries that has passed a state funeral manual, which categorises different types of funerals including that of the president and former presidents, as well as different categories for others such as ministers and deputy ministers.

Consultation on Geingob’s funeral ongoing

Meanwhile, Mushelenga, said consultation on the funeral of Geingob, are still ongoing.

He assured the public that the national committee tasked with the former president’s funeral is still consulting with his family.

“The president passed on on Sunday . . . today is Tuesday. It’s been two days. As with any other personality that has passed on, I have not experienced it that today’s people have already started to finalise a date and funeral arrangements,” he said.

Mushelenga said the process involves consideration of the stature of a head of state and the reverence owed to an elder.

He said within most families, decisions about the timing of a funeral are deliberated on with care.

“Even in our own families, if an elderly person died today or tomorrow, we are going to decide on the funeral.

“People sit around, consider various factors, and decide on the appropriate date. Bear with those who are involved in the arrangements.

“Once a decision has been taken, it will be communicated,” he said.

Mushelenga said only officially sanctioned information by the authorities involved in the funeral arrangements should be considered.

The minister will update the nation on the events leading to the funeral at 16h00 daily, live-streamed on the ministry’s social media platforms.

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