OPPOSITION politicians and analysts have blasted president Hage Geingob for allegedly being disconnected from the hardships of ordinary Namibians.
They say the country “must be on autopilot” if Geingob is “clueless” on the state of schools and the education system.
This comes after the head of state yesterday said he is unaware of Namibian pupils being taught in the open under trees.
The president was addressing the Cabinet during its official opening yesterday.
“This other thing I saw which is now prominent is children being taught under the trees. I have travelled to this country, and I have never seen this before. Under the trees,” he said.
This is despite media reports dating back to 2012 on the nationwide lack of classrooms.
The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has stated before that it is faced with a shortage of 4 479 classrooms at both primary and secondary schools due to a budget shortfall.
Geingob yesterday also reminisced on a time when teachers told him they do not have access to kitchens at schools.
“I looked at this person and I said ‘yes, while you wait for the government, why don’t you put one pole here, one pole there, one there, and one pole there, and put blikkies on top?’
“At least you will be cooking there and it won’t be wet while you are waiting for the government,” the president said.
Geingob also criticised the media, saying it is unpatriotic for painting a ”negative picture” of the country despite its progress.
“That’s what Americans are saying. I grew up in America by the way. Is everything wrong in this country? People are saying we are about number six in fighting corruption.
“We want to be number one of course. But when you watch the TV and read the papers we are the most corrupt country. Your freedom ends where mine starts … where patriotism starts,” the president stressed.
Opposition parliamentarians and analysts did not take kindly to Geingob’s words.
Leader of the official opposition McHenry Venaani yesterday described Geingob’s words as disheartening and clueless.
“He is showing an abrasiveness with no clue of what is happening in the country.
“It is not only disappointing, it is mind-blowing,” he said.
“The president is wrong,” he added.
Venaani, however, agreed with Geingob’s sentiments on the poles and blikkies, saying teachers should play their patriotic part in solving problems.
“He is just saying teachers must be proactive,” he said.
Teachers Union of Namibia secretary general Mahongora Kavihuha yesterday bashed Geingob for “missing the point”, saying teachers are already under a lot of pressure.
“The budgets of the schools apparently do not allow paying a teacher – not even a relief teacher,” he said.
Kavihuha said teachers have been sacrificing their own resources for years, and that this should end.
“Proper infrastructure is falling apart – not only in schools. Look at Independence Stadium, look at Sam Nujoma Stadium. They’re falling apart,” he said. Youth member of parliament Inna Hengari says Geingob’s lack of knowledge should also be blamed on the Office of the Prime Minister and the National Planning Commission. She wanted to know what happened to the Geingob who promised there would be no shacks in Namibia under his reign.
“Is he suddenly expecting our people to sleep in blikkies?
‘ALLERGIC TO ACCOUNTABILITY’
“The president has always been allergic to accountability, so has his entire Cabinet,” she said.
Parliamentarian Mike Kavekotora believes the president is either pretending to be ignorant or doesn’t understand the government’s role.
“It’s naive to expect society to take up what is the government’s responsibility,” he said yesterday.
Kavekotora said taxes and other levies the government takes from the nation are meant to deliver services, and not to fill up the government’s pockets.
“He basically is acknowledging his government’s failure, but he puts the blame on society, and that is unfortunate,” he said.
Political analyst Rui Tyitende says the president’s statement erases any doubt that he is divorced from the hardships endured by ordinary Namibians.
“It is a dangerously complacent attitude, highly insensitive, and an insult to the Namibian children being taught under trees and in mud rooms,” he said yesterday.
“The country appears to be on autopilot if the head of state is oblivious to the various challenges facing his country,” he said.
National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) parliamentarian Joseph Kauandenge said Geingob’s lack of knowledge on the state of schools in the country is disgraceful.
“That shows you that the president is out of touch with the realities on the ground. This begs the question: What does the president know?” he said.
Namibian Economic Freedom Fighters parliamentarian Kalimbo Iipumbu suggests the firing of minister of education, arts and culture Anna Nghipondoka over Geingob’s lack of knowledge.
“The minister is just there in Windhoek, but not a minister on the ground to see the practicalities,” he said.