We can all agree that the level of political campaigning in recent times has been at an all-time low all over the world. The so-called leader of the free world, the United States, is still reeling from the bitterly divided election. Here in Namibia media reports also suggest we are moving towards a path of hate, the kind of disdain for one another that threatens to erase the gains we have made in terms of nation-building over the last 30 years.
Recently, Swapo stalwart and former Namibian Defence Force chief Martin Shalli apologised for comments he made at a political rally that was not only vicious and tacky, but un-Namibian to say the least. You see, we have lived a painful history. This young nation is founded on the blood of brave Namibians who made the ultimate sacrifice. As Namibians watched the Namibian flag being hoisted on 21 March 1990, then Founding President Sam Nujoma proudly said never again would Namibia be oppressed. But ensuring that we continue to nurture our freedom requires of us not to see each other as enemies. When we attempt to exert power over each other, act superior to other Namibians and assume that one is more entitled than the other, we move closer to oppressing each other.
When people feel othered, and when a segment of society looks down on others, we all lose. It is patriotism that loses. While political parties are encouraged to follow the Electoral Commission of Namibia’s code of conduct, certainly ordinary Namibians also need a mindset change. With political lines drawn ahead of the regional council and local authority elections, the very polarising political campaigning has torn apart families, while tension between communities and friends is the order of the day. People continue to hurl insults at each other on social media. While these are very emotional times, we can also not accept that this behaviour is a reflection of who we are as a people.
We have our weaknesses as Namibians, but we are not a bitter lot. We know reconciliation, we know peace, we know the desire for peace. How we debate and engage each other in these times of elections, sets the tone for how we exist moving on. Remember, we can oppose one another without hate. After all, we are all Namibians.
BDF should be called to order
The killing of four family members by the Botswana Defence Force has been a topical issue this whole week. It is unfortunate that the events that led to the brutal killing of the Nchindo brothers and their Zambian cousin could have been averted had Botswana not reneged on a May 2015 agreement with Namibia in which it undertook to end its infamous ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy as an anti-poaching strategy. According to reports about 37 Namibians have been killed by the BDF since independence.
To this we say, one Namibian life lost is one too many. It is our sincere hope the joint investigation by the two countries will provide useful information and bring the culprits to justice. The violent and callous killing of our nationals whom we understand did not represent a genuine danger should be condemned with the utmost contempt.