AS the dust continues to settle on the bruising Swapo Congress battle, which saw President Hage Geingob and his slate power to a landslide victory, many are still licking their wounds.
Among them are the perpetrators and purveyors of the fake news that flooded social media across the country.
There were concerted efforts during the campaign to portray the president and his team in a number of unflattering ways, but in the end, this did not help his detractors, who have all but entered the political wilderness, after being led down the garden path by the hype and expectation created by these fake news proponents.
While social media has played, and continues to play, a key role in the unfolding seismic events on a global stage, including the Arab Spring uprisings, in Namibia, the level of crudeness and vulgarity associated with our social media interactions remain a constant reminder that trusted sources of information cannot, and should never, be discarded.
Even before delegates to the Swapo Congress started voting on Sunday, ‘results’ began emerging on social media – a clear attempt to influence and cajole a last-minute push for those, who would have by hook or crook, swayed the ballots in their favour.
The initial falsified news included that Sport, Youth and National Service Minister, Jerry Ekandjo, had beaten Geingob and later that Swapo Oshikoto Regional Coordinator, Armas Amukwiyu, had beaten Rural and Urban Development Minster, Sophia Shaningwa, to the post, in the race to the Swapo secretary-general position.
Significantly, when the monumental victory of Geingob and his slate became clear, during the early hours of Monday morning, many of the fake news protagonists chose to shut down their Facebook and other social media accounts, and went into instant hibernation.
Another significant piece of fallout from the congress battle is the aftermath of the strategy and tactics used by Geingob’s detractors, who ironically include ministers that serve in his Cabinet.
One of the key lessons that should be learned from this congress is that politicians, whether they are campaigning for a leadership post, should still be held accountable for their utterances.
What is likely to haunt Swapo, despite the conciliatory tone adopted by the losers, is that they attempted and failed to make Geingob look useless in the eyes of both the party and the public.
Their campaign centred on attacking the man and not the ball, as they tried to heap all the wrongs and challenges we are facing onto the man who has been steering Namibia through very troubled waters.
Perhaps there were too many strikers in the team that aimed to frustrate and provoke the Head of State.
The question now is whether their comments after congress, in which they, among others, made their support available “to ensure that peace and unity prevails”, is a guarantee that they will not bide their time, and re-emerge to rubbish and ridicule in the future.
Not only did they attack the president personally, they also savaged government programmes, such as the Food Bank and others, as if they do not sit in Cabinet, where collective decisions are taken to implement and roll out these initiatives.Another key lesson from the congress was that it was a blatant rejection of the tribalist overtones of those who opposed Geingob, as they were not supported en masse by the delegates from the regions they hail from.This is a clear message that Namibia will never again be herded tribal enclaves, to support narrow self-interests.All in all, it was encouraging to see the many olive branches being extended between the factional protagonists, and that these groupings have now been disbanded.
The challenges we face as a nation deserve more than double-speak and political expediency, for self-gain. They need to be tackled with principle and vigour, in the interest of all.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015