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Campaign surrogates in "Spin rooms"

By Paul T. Shipale
Just a week ago I cautioned against negative campaigning and profiling of individuals. I also once said that just because an idea was trot about by someone writing from the comfort of his/her home under the guise of being an 'analyst', while in actual fact such a political pundit is acting as a campaign surrogate and armchair critic, it does not mean that we should accept it without independent evidence.

Similarly, I also said calling someone all sorts of names does not mean that the labelling is correct because such terms may be deployed as a put down and will not do it this time around as we are now blasť from zingers, the witty, often caustic remarks or sudden shock, revelation, or turn of events and the lampooning of people ridiculing them with light satire by some wonky analysts.

Already Josephat Sinvula in this month's edition of Insight magazine and last week column of political perspective titled: Towards the 2014 Presidential Poll, that appeared in the Namibian of Friday 12 October 2012, instead of just throwing his choice of candidate in the mix, he cooked up a storm a bunch of malarkey with logical fallacies of a hasty generalization, i.e., a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence, and Ad hominem attack on the character of the candidates rather than their opinions or arguments.

Indeed, oversimplifications conflate and tend to distract and mislead, as Mr. Bankie said the other day. In this regard, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to be able to read between the lines that the author, even if he gave some positive comments on the three candidates so far in the race, if we include the Honourable Minister of Regional, Local Government and Housing and SWAPO Party Secretary for Mobilization to be nominated by the SPYL to the two nominees by the Politburo, i.e., the Honourable Minister of Trade and Industry and the incumbent SWAPO-Party Vice- President who did not need any nomination and the Honourable Minister of Justice and current SWAPO-Party Secretary General who was dully nominated and seconded, Sinvula immediately dismiss them by begging the claim, i.e., a conclusion that the author's proof is validated within the claim.

Sinvula lampooned saying 'Geingob and Ithana can be likened to a "bridesmaid" and the "ambitious biblical virgin". He also said Geingob is an astute politician and an administrator, although he does not have a "strong constituency" and 'Ivula- Ithana is a shrewd politician who speaks her mind but labelled as "divisive", while Ekandjo is the "Prodigal Son" known to be close to the grassroots membership, but according to Sinvula, he does not have "the stature of a President".

Sinvula then heaped praises on who seems to be his preferred candidate saying 'Prime Minister "Nahas Angula is a symbiosis of a reluctant warrior, a true blood and a dark horse all rolled into one". Sinvula further said that Angula is 'profoundly loyal to his superiors' and likely to run for only one term and would therefore be the compromised candidate as he is perceived not to carry any political baggage as he appears to be corruption-free as a man of all seasons and that of the common man as far as social justice is concerned'.

Not that I disagree with his choice of candidate and all the accolades he heaped on him, but I disagree with his specific semiotic strategy of discrediting others to accomplish his persuasive goals. Sinvula who is a SWAPO Member as I am made to understand, instead of using his own assessment of the individuals concerned, he regurgitated the old outburst from those who were hell bent on hijacking the Party by profiling those individuals they considered would spoil their plans. Needless to say, he failed to dig up any dirt to back his claims with facts and use it in the mudslinging hurly-burly of electoral politics to discredit the rival candidates.

Instead he came up with the loosely defined 'Omusati Clique' and the inconsequential assertions of 'no stature as the President' as if people are born with a Presidential tag. Now one wonders, since when do people need to have a 'stature as the President' to be able to qualify for this race?

Sinvula also talked about loyalty and the question is; does that include not defending the principle of collective leadership as he alleged that the President is 'a reluctant warrior' and 'lame duck President' who does not want to rock the boat using the adage of "collective leadership" and is sitting on the reports of the Presidential Commissions of enquiry held during the years of his predecessor? So, according to Sinvula, if one defends the principle of collective leadership, that person is considered a lame duck?

Sinvula should have just thrown his choice of candidate in the mix, instead of cooking up a storm a bunch of malarkey with logical fallacies. The implicit idea behind his subject matter seeks to discredit others and cement in the mind of the voters his assertion of his choice of candidate. But didn't the Premier himself withdraw his nomination and said that it is Tjaila time? What if those he terms as the "ambitious biblical virgin" turned out to be the biblical woman who saves the life of her child because she didn't want her child to be cut in two? My point is; let us not profile the candidates and portray them negatively.

Now we hear of plans to bar some people from the race. What if the one libelled as lacking "the stature of a President" is the man of the people and their choice of candidate? There is nothing wrong with people having their choice of candidates and that includes the leadership, which shows that there is no such thing as discrimination based on race, ethnic origin or gender as some were alluding but even if some will go at lengths with their WHAM or to "win the hearts and minds", the ultimate choice rest with the people. Mr. Udo W. Froese is right when he wrote that Africa is by no means America, where the opposing presidential candidates use every trick in their books to get their opponents out of the way, basing their campaigns on exorbitant amounts of sponsorship and media exposure to assure a majority vote. Neither the media nor the mischievous armchair political analysts (including those outside the country) have any bearing on politics, concluded Froese. The choice rests with the voters at the Congress to make sure they elect leaders who will defend the principles of collective leadership and the unity of the party as well as the peace and stability in the country.

The real Zinger last week was the proposal by the SPYL to nominate the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Utoni Nujoma to the position of Secretary General of the SWAPO Party to be deputised by the Honourable Minister of Education, Dr Abraham Iyambo both members of the SWAPO Party Politburo and the Central Committee.

Judging from what Graham Hopwood wrote in the Insight Magazine about the implications of stymieing, i.e., hindering the progress and the ambition of SWAPO's younger generation by a gerontocracy, if the nominees accept, the proposal to nominate these two Ministers is indeed a good move that plans for the next set of leaders including as future Presidents and Prime Ministers. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.


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