Namibia: State House Feels Heat Over Chobe Killings

23 November 2020

PRESSURE is mounting on State House over its handling of the killing of four fishermen by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF), with president Hage Geingob being urged to visit the Zambezi region and the Impalila Island fishing community.

The Zambezi Development Association (ZDA) has written to the head of state asking him to visit the Zambezi region to receive a petition and to give the people of the region the assurance that they would be protected against the BDF.

ZDA member Blessing Maanda in the letter to the president also demanded that the president meet the four traditional authorities to provide words of healing.

"We are not instructed by the kings. This is our own initiative to invite the president. The president as the commander-in-chief took an oath to protect us. He must give the assurance that the killing will stop. Since independence, the kings and chiefs never had a platform to air their feelings about the killings happening in their jurisdictions of rulership," Maanda said.

The ZDA is yet to receive a response to their request.

Also under fire is State House press secretary Alfredo Hengari, with Swapo's Zambezi region leadership as well as pressure groups demanding that he apologise for recently describing ongoing solidarity protests as "pointless and wholly misplaced".

"I don't comment on issues raised by fellow comrades in newspapers or the media. I will take the matter up with the comrades in the Zambezi regional executive," Hengari said when approached for comment.

On Friday, the ruling party's regional coordinator, Moffat Sileze, at a media conference at the party's head office at Katima Mulilo said Hengari's statement was insensitive and inappropriate.

"It was his duty to calm the situation by assuring the nation that the matter is receiving the utmost attention from the Presidency, as it deserved," said Sileze.

At Swakopmund a group of residents protesting against the killing of people along the border between Namibia and Botswana handed over a petition to Erongo governor Neville Andre. They demanded the immediate removal of the press secretary from State House.

The group described Hengari's comments as insensitive, inconsiderate and a display of arrogance towards people in mourning.

They said they found it "pointless" for Hengari to quote Article 21 of Namibia's Constitution in his statement to suppress the same rights stipulated in the article within the same press statement.

"We find everything mentioned in his statement against this noble call for justice to be exactly the opposite of what president Geingob's office is claiming to stand for.

"What we find 'pointless and wholly misplaced' is not this peaceful demonstration, but his own press statement against peaceful protests; what we find 'blatantly politicised' is everything about his press statement," the petition read.

The petitioners added they found it "pointless" that mourners made a request to meet with the head of state at State House instead of him flying to the Zambezi region to visit the grieving family at their village. They also felt it was "pointless" for vice president Nangolo Mbumba not to condemn the killing of the four men while addressing a political rally at Kongola not far from Impalila Island where there killings took place.

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