Preacute-Vue [discourse#39s-Analysis] Tri-Vium – Rhetorical Analysis of Pohamba#39s Last State of the Nation Address

IN the State of the Nation Address, one of the few avenues through which the President is obliged to communicate with the people of Namibia, President Hifikepunye Pohamba asserted that quoteach year, for the past 24 years, the President of our Republic has come to this Chamber during the consideration of the Appropriation Bill in order to account to the nation, on the implementation of government policies of the passing financial year by the Executive Organ, and also to inform the nation about future policies. This constitutional act reinforces the very essence of our democracy, as a government (of the people), by the people (and) for the people.quot

Being such a rare opportunity to communicate with citizens, each year, the state of the nation address must ideally:

(a) Update us on the progress of projects promised in the previous year’s address. (b) Inform us of upcoming or recently launched initiatives and,

(c) Articulate a vision of our future.

Indeed, within all types of political system (autocratic, oligarchic, democratic, etc.), political leaders and heads of nation states, by virtue of their position, play a critical role in national development and international politics. They often rely on the spoken word to influence and mobilize their followers and convince people of the benefits that can arise from their leadership. Political speeches are motivated by the desire to persuade and convince the nation or society and familiarize the audience with their socio-economic policies, plans and actions (Denton and Hahn, 1986 Teittinen, 2000).

Indeed, to uncover the ideological preoccupations inherent in the speeches, a critical rhetoric framework seeks to critically examine beyond the text and moment of discourse and reveal through argumentation how rhetoric works to promote or denigrate important social values. This is a critical and important issue, because if persuasion is to be successful the message needs to comply with the wants and needs, the desires and imagination of the audience. In this regard, within the framework of Fairclough’s socio-semiotic model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), we will do a content analysis to identify the major ideological and thematic preoccupations, followed by a critical rhetorical analysis to discover the persuasive strategies in President Pohamba’s last state of the nation address.

In consistency with African leaders’ general preoccupation with African economic recovery, President Pohamba is of the view that the country has been plagued with socio-economic challenges and thus presents three key areas where the nation needs to channel its developmental efforts, namely, economic growth, social development and job creation. In the same vein, President Pohamba urges all Namibians to unite and strive to fight for the country’s economic development and called on the nation to march hand in hand to make the country more competitive and bring about social justice. The President then assured the nation that the future of the country is safe and secure as he believes that it will continue to grow and flourish for the benefit of its entire people.

Rhetorical Devices:

Three dominant ideological preoccupations that emerge from the analysis are (a) economic growth and socio-economic development, (b) inclusiveness and national unity (c) self-reliance. For this, he used various rhetorical strategies to project the government’s policies and plans and to persuade the populace. President Pohamba employs the modal of ‘must’ to admonish the nation to collectively join hands to fight the socio-economic challenges as the modal ‘must’ expresses a compelling obligation on the entire nation to ensure a collective effort towards socio-economic aancement. In the same vein, the modal auxiliary ‘will’ is repeatedly employed to emphasize the willingness and commitment of the government to deal with the problems the nation is faced with. The use of the pronouns ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘our’ in the State of the Nation Address is a strategy of collectivization while the choice of the verbs of senses (‘think’, ‘feel’ and ‘believe’) suggest passion and emotional involvement.

Content Analysis

Let us begin our analysis by examining whether the President provided any updates on some key initiatives which he announced in the 2013 State of the Nation Address and whether he informed us of any upcoming or recently launched initiatives and if he articulated a vision of our future.

The President did indeed provide updates on some key initiatives such as the Inclusive Education Policy and said since the abolition of the payment of school development fees in public schools in 2012, and enrolment figures at pre-primary and primary school levels have increased significantly from under 15 000 learners in 2012, to more than 24 000 in 2013. Similarly, Grade 1 enrolment increased from under 66 000 to more than 74 000 learners in 2013 and updated us on the graduation of the first locally trained doctors.

On infrastructure development, he mentioned several road and bridge construction projects that were completed around the country while others are currently underway. These include Trunk Road 15 from Tsumeb via Tsintsabis to Katwitwi, as well as various bitumen and gravel road projects that have been finalized or are being planned for implementation in Kavango, Omusati, Oshana, Ohangwena, Kharas, Khomas, Kunene, Omaheke, Hardap, Zambezi, Oshikoto, Erongo and Otjozondjupa regions. Several feeder roads were also constructed to facilitate safer travel and access to public services for residents of rural areas.

Furthermore, the President said the recent signing of an agreement between Namibia and Botswana on the construction of the Trans-Kalahari Railway project, estimated to cost about N$120 billion, is a significant project in infrastructure development efforts in the SADC Region and therefore this project should be completed speedily as well as the construction of the railway line from Ondangwa to Oshakati to link these growing towns to the national rail network. In addition, he gave an update on the construction of clinics, health centers and hospital components across the country.

President Pohamba also informed the nation on upcoming or recently launched initiatives such as the National Mass Housing Programme, the E-Government Strategic Action Plan for the public service, the modernization of the Public Procurement System, the GRN Intranet to the regions, the development of a Public Asset Management Policy, the launching of the Short-Term Critical Supply Project by the national power utility, Nampowere, to refurbish the Van Eck Coal Power Station in Windhoek, replace turbines at Ruacana Hydro Power Station and all diesel-generator sets at Paratus Power Station in Walvis Bay as well as securing short-term power purchase agreements with suppliers in the SADC Region.

In addition, the President informed the nation on new mining ventures in the country such as the Husab, Otjikoto and B2Gold Mines, which are currently under construction and the construction of the Tschudi Mine near Tsumeb. Moreover, the President said progress has been made by developers of the Kudu-Gas-to-Power Project, including the signing of a power off-take and equity between Nampower and the Copper Belt Energy Company of Zambia.

Furthermore, to mitigate the impact of the drought on livestock farmers, the President informed the nation that Government initiated the Livestock Marketing Incentive Scheme which resulted in the marketing of more than 360 000 small stock and more than 104 000 large stock units. Similarly, the President said the new Meatco Bill, which is aimed at securing greater participation of communal farmers in the commercial marketing of cattle, and indeed a fairer representation in the meat industry, is receiving attention, while the agricultural research institutions are conducting research on indigenous livestock breeds that are hardy and well-adapted, to become part of our national herd. Most importantly, a milestone in the water sector is the commencement of the construction of the Neckartal Dam in the Karas Region, which will support irrigation projects covering 5000 hectares of land and a desalination plant that is being built at Mile 6, in order to supplement water supply to the mines and coastal towns in Erongo Region.

The President welcomed the progress made so far in the investigation and prosecution of cases of corruption and emphasized that no effort should be spared to ensure justice and bring perpetrators to book. In this regard, the long overdue Whistle Blowers and Witness Protection Bill is currently receiving attention. In addition, as of January this year, two dedicated courts have been established in Windhoek to handle cases of corruption. In addition, an asset forfeiture unit will be established at Oshakati to complement the work of the Windhoek-based unit and ensure that criminals do not benefit from the proceeds of crime or ill-gotten gains.

What I found missing in President Pohamba’s State of the Nation Address was a way forward and a vision for the future except when he sternly warned and directed accounting officers, chief regional officers and chief executive officers of local authorities quotto ensure the finalization and speedy implementation of strategic plans in all institutions and by all staff members, during the new financial year, without exception.quot

It is important to remember that the ruling party the President is presiding over has a role to play as a leader in the society that should provide a clearer vision, manage societal contradictions, unite the nation in common action, address the injustices of the past such as the land issue and the oppression of women as well as fight against tribalism and the return to homeland politics, including the exclusion and discrimination of minority groups.

I am also disappointed that as far as the rhetoric techniques are concerned, the President did not follow a theme such as the South African President Jacob Zuma’s quotA good story to tellquot and I am still puzzled why he didn’t come up with a theme such as quotA decade of an impressive record of service deliveryquot given the milestone achievements the Government has scored under his leadership? Surely, phrases such as quotas we move forward, we should spare no effort in our resolve to make our country more competitive economicallyquot or quotlet us do our best as a nation and as citizens to bring about social justice,quot are all wonderfully crafted phrases exhorting, imploring and urging the nation on the way forward and reckon that President Pohamba’s best impactful lines are made when he speaks off the cuff and from the heart.

However, why did the speech not use the magic rule of three or use contrasts to make impactful lines and allow the President to exit with memorable phrases that the nation will always remember? Nevertheless, all in all, it was President Pohamba’s best speech ever and best State of The Nation Address in terms of content and depth as he highlighted the major achievements of his administration and provided the nation with facts and figures.

– Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper and are not in any way connected to my position but merely reflect my personal opinion as a citizen. Written by Staff Reporter

Source : New Era