We, whose names appear at the end of this open letter, register our deepest concern and disappointment about the continuing personal attacks and public humiliation of Prof. Joseph Diescho by public office-bearers and organs of the State.
Also, the humiliation and attack to which Prof. Diescho has responded to through public medium, although and we have full understanding, is not helpful in finding a lasting solution to the matter.
The culmination of these attacks and public humiliation was during the answer response by His Excellency, Dr Hage G Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, on 6 April 2022 during the 8th State of the Nation Address (SONA).
It was on a question by the leader of the official opposition, McHenry Venaani, and a follow-up press release thereafter by the minister of Defence and Veterans Affairs as well as the secretary to Cabinet.
As the public is aware, the SONA, in terms of Article 32(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, is a dignified State occasion at which: “In accordance with the responsibility of the executive branch of Government to the legislative branch, the President and the Cabinet shall each year during the consideration of the official budget attend Parliament. During such session, the President shall address Parliament on the state of the nation and on future policies of the government, shall report on the policies of the previous year and shall be available to respond to questions”.
The focus of SONA, in our view, ought to reconcile, summon the best in each Namibian citizen, and highlight future policies and strategic interventions of government to address national and global challenges, such as improving the quality of public services, such as education and health; addressing food security; deepening social and economic inequalities in Namibia and globally; addressing the land question and agrarian reform; highlighting strategies to restart and grow the economy after the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the economy, jobs, businesses and livelihoods; addressing unemployment, especially among the youth, infrastructure and general development in rural areas, as well as access to clean drinking water.
It is regrettable and unfortunate, however, that a dignified State occasion and parliament, the legislative power of Namibia that has afforded all Namibians fundamental human rights and freedoms, was used to attack and vilify a fellow citizen and member of the Namibian House, and who was not in Parliament to defend himself against the accusations levelled against him, and whose professional life in his country of birth was destroyed – and in our view, without due processes.
The above conclusion is on the grounds of Article 18 of the Namibian Constitution, which states: “Administrative bodies and administrative officials shall act fairly and reasonably, and comply with the requirements imposed upon such bodies and officials by common law and any relevant legislation – and persons aggrieved by the exercise of such acts and decisions shall have the right to seek redress before a competent Court or Tribunal”.
The substance of the response and humilitation was that Prof. Diesho is a “failure”.
What we have observed over the years is that meritocracy and performance are not key considerations in appointments in public affairs in the country.
If they were considerations, many persons in Namibia will not be in their positions.
How is it possible that a “failure’’ in a small country, population wise, and a developing state, and where every skilled person is supposed to make a national contribution, is employed by the renowned University of Bonn, as a visiting professor in the Centre for Advanced Security, Strategic and Integration Studies (CASSIS) in a highly developed and global competitive country and economy such as Germany?
We are deeply concerned about attacks and humiliations by public office-bearers, personalities and citizens on each other, as the public attacks and humiliation convey unintended social teachings and have implications on moral values of especially children and ordinary citizens.
We, therefore, with humility, appeal that we treat one another in Namibia with the highest level of mutual respect, and where the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as stated in the preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, and with no discrimination against any person on the grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status are uphold.
To this end, we call upon societal institutions such as religious, traditional and civil society organisations as well as individuals to facilitate a process of reconciliation between President Hage Geingob and Prof. Diescho.
Bishop Lukas Katenda
Honourable Paulus Mbangu
Pastor Laban Mwashekele
Ms Rinaani Musutua
Dr Tjitunga Elijah Ngurare
Ms PTM Matjila
Dr Marius Kudumo
Dr Ndumba J Kamwanyah
Mr Tjeripo Musutua
Mr Severin Tame Haingura