Hage Geingob
Hage Geingob

Opposition parties want president Hage Geingob and the Swapo party charged for allegedly contravening emergency regulations to minimise the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) secretary general Manuel Ngaringombe yesterday reported a case at the Windhoek police station against Geingob and Swapo for allegedly violating the regulations.

The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) filed a similar case with the police in Windhoek yesterday, and party member Duminga Ndala confirmed the case.

The punishment for contravening lockdown regulations is a fine of not more than N$2 000 or six months’ imprisonment.

Geingob, in his capacity as Swapo president, on Sunday officiated a gathering in Windhoek to celebrate the 60th birthday of the ruling party.

The event was attended by more than 20 people, including former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, Swapo stalwart Ben Amadhila as well as media members and state security staff.

This gathering has been viewed by many to be in violation of the national lockdown regulations which prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people at a time as a measure to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

The president was also widely criticised on social media for violating social distancing guidelines after a picture of him apparently shaking hands with former president Pohamba was published.

Swapo’s executive director, Austin Samupwa, yesterday denied that the ruling party had violated the national lockdown regulations.

He said although there were more than 20 people at the parliament building on Sunday, those who attended Geingob’s briefing were less than 10 and it was thus in line with the regulations.

Samupwa said the event was totally taken out of proportion by individuals on social media.

He also disputed the fact that Geingob was pictured shaking hands with Pohamba at the event despite the shaking of hands being banned.

Samupwa said the gesture between Geingob and Pohamba was “in actual fact” not a handshake but that Geingob was assisting Pohamba to stand up.

“Nobody shook hands. You know that comrade Pohamba sometimes needs to be helped when he is standing up. Maybe that is what was happening, but I don’t think that it was a real handshake,” Samupwa said.

He said the president’s bodyguards and other Swapo officials were not necessarily in the same venue where Geingob was briefing the media.

“Even though they [Geingob’s bodyguards and Swapo support staff] were there, they were not gathering and they observed the one-metre social distance regulation, so there was no regulation broken. People must not confuse the media with the attendants,” he said.

Nudo was another opposition party that joined others to condemn the president’s action and called for charges to be instituted against the ruling party.

Nudo secretary general Joseph Kauandenge in a statement issued on Sunday said Geingob must be charged because he has contravened the regulations on more than one occasion.

Kauandenge said Sunday’s event was testimony that the ruling party’s leadership had no regard for the laws of the country.

He said Geingob was also creating a bad precedent by allowing the gathering to take place in the name of celebrations.

“This exposed many to the virus, all because of grandeur and posturing on the part of the president. [… ] Action speaks louder than words, Mr President, and you are setting a very wrong precedence because of your inherent nature of posturing, grandeur and [desire] to be in the limelight.

“The president must stop forthwith behaving as if he and those in his inner circle are immune to the virus,” Kauandenge said.

“We are calling upon the Namibian Police and those entrusted to enforce the state of emergency regulations to charge the Swapo president and those who were present at yesterday’s event with contravening of the regulations”.

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