What’s in the title?

The ruling party Swapo spent a lot of its precious time this week debating on the title of President Hage Geingob in the party.

The debate turned emotive, to the extent that many party members took to social media to unpack the subject further. This was after secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba paused during his press conference earlier in the week, to address the issue which he said is being whipped up by the press.

Now, we have no business deciding who should be called what in Swapo – or indeed any other political grouping in this country.

However, in a week where the national budget was tabled, and on top of varying topical issues in the country, we find it wasteful that precious time is being spent on what appears to us as a non-issue in the greater scheme of things.
Young people were particularly at the forefront of this debate, spending time – some of which belonged to their employers – writing lengthy testimonies of how Geingob should be called.

It’s a free country, we reckon. Freedoms such as that of expression and firmly guaranteed and, therefore, there is nothing criminal about debating how the President should be addressed within the Swapo confined.

But it is the emotions and time spent on this debate that worries us most. How does the title, whatever it is, puts bread on the table of a destitute family in Vaalgras or connects water to dry villages in Okongo?

On what basis do we allow a title to capture the national imagination for the entire week when we could spend our time debating solutions to pressing issues confronting our nation?

Evidently, the debate is spearheaded by those with parochial interest at the Swapo congress later this year. But as ruling party members and supporters, we thought the next couple of months would be spent on debates around issues that the party could address at the congress – its highest decision-making body?

Why is it that in all debates related to congress, there is hardly any talk of solutions to our nation’s problems or consolidating any advantages we have over thorny issues in the country? How about debating ideologies, paths and directions that we want Swapo – which is almost guaranteed another win in the 2019 national elections – should embark on in delivering its vast mandate to the Namibian populace?

We are strong advocates of free speech and open thinking. But when our precious time is spent, especially by those in a position to make positive change in society, on what by and large is a comical debate, it worries the heaven out of us. Time is a precious but rare commodity. Those who have it should use it productively.

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