A political heatwave has landed recently among the Namibian political and public sphere at a high and uncontrolled temperature on social networks. Lately, I have observed with grave concern, disgrace and burning heart the level of political maturity of some leaders/citizens sharing and discussing their dirty deals, hidden secrets and how they politically manipulated the electorates to be where they are today, on social media.
What is worse is that some of the issues being shared and discussed by these elders and well respected individuals are private and confidential and were done during the time when they were in good terms secretly. While they are busy fighting on social networks, the society is swimming in a flooded pool of unresolved issues such as the escalating, high unemployment rate among the youth, poverty, unequal distribution of land, shortage of housing, economic financial meltdown, and incomplete capital projects in ministries and other government departments. Leaders are supposed to fight diplomatically, maturely, professionally and culturally.
Subsequently, revealing private issues on social media does not shame anyone apart from showing your maturity level and cultural upbringing. After all, as the electorate we do not need to know all these evil works that some of our leaders were involved in to enrich themselves while some members of the society have nothing to eat or dress.
It has become the order of the day for people to threaten and take each other to court after their ill-doing political activities are exposed on social networks, but take note that this does not only damage your reputation or image but that of the society, country and the party you are serving.
Therefore, I am urging our leaders and political representatives to know and understand that social media is not meant to be a weapon of mass destruction, character assassinations and a vilification battlefield as we are doing it right now. It was supposed to be a unifying platform.
What is interesting is that when political partners in crime were eating or looting the state coffers and misappropriating state resources for their own benefit they were completely mute and deaf. However, the moment they have personal differences or lose their political favours or seats, they will flock to various social media to expose, blackmail and character-assassinate each other.
These are really signs of Sodom and Gomorrah as narrated biblically, and that time has arrived in Namibia, and if we are not careful our peace, tranquillity, harmony and political stability will fade away.
I am left with a lot of questions to ask: what is so difficult for these leaders to have a private discussion telephonically or in person to resolve their differences? What is so unique about washing your dirty linen in public? What happened to our cultural morals? As leaders we need to be role models to the younger generation – however, if we do insults and reveal private and bedroom matters on social media as adults what do we expect the young ones/youth to do? Obviously through copycat behaviour they will imitate us as they may see it as an appropriate way of resolving issues and at the end we will claim that the youth do not have respect. But who is to be blamed?
We should take note that sharing and discussing issues on social networks is just the same as shouting and screaming about your private issues at a bar and when you are under the influence of alcohol, since you do not even know how many people are listening to you? Who are they and why are they listening? Theory has it that political failures, dropouts, cowards, political evangelists and self-gratification individuals tend to use cheap weapons and excuses to win the minds of their supporters, however, in this era citizens can easily distinguish between fake politicians and the true ones.
To show your political maturity on social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and so on, please follow the following advice:
Do not respond to allegations, character-assassinations, blackmailing on social media, rather approach a police station and open a case against that individual. No need to tell that individual what your next actions are;
Avoid saying unholy words or making immature or culturally unfriendly statements on social media as they destroy your political career, reputation, respect and popularity and bring you down to the level of cheap and value-less individuals;
Block the person so that you will not see their post or status and even if your friend tells you that you are being discussed on the other side, ignore it.
• Sadrag Panduleni Shihomeka is a citizen engagement, social media and politics researcher at the School of History, Culture and Communication, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org