COVID-19 A Heuristic Justification of Presidency as a Rhetorical Institution

Main Article Content

Frieda Nauyele Nanyeni-Kanyemba


When a country is faced with a crisis, the President, as the chief policy maker and Head of State, is the first person expected to act. With the power vested in him by the Namibian constitution in the article 26 (1), Hage Geingob, the President of Namibia declared a State of emergency on 17 March 2020 in response to the global pandemic Coronavirus (COVID-19). A national crisis is one of the important occasions of a presidency as a rhetorical institution. In this regard, words are an important source of power. Therefore, this paper analysed the language and rhetoric of emergency used by Geingob as his political tool to respond to this pandemic. The analysis is guided by the rhetorical theory (Bitzer, 1968) and Aristotle’s rhetorical proofs of ethos, pathos and logos. It is important to note that national crises such as COVID 19 are linguistic constructions in the sense that it is largely through presidential rhetoric that the country deals with them.

Article Details

How to Cite
Nanyeni-Kanyemba, F. N. (2023). COVID-19: A Heuristic Justification of Presidency as a Rhetorical Institution. NAWA Journal of Language and Communication, 16(2), 31–41.
Author Biography

Frieda Nauyele Nanyeni-Kanyemba, International University of Management

Frieda Nanyeni-Kanyemba holds a PhD, that examined Presidential Rhetoric Studies (UCT), and an MA English (UNAM). She is a senior lecturer in the Centre for Languages and Communication at the International University of Management (IUM), She is a blind reviewer for the Journal of the University of Namibia Language Centre (JULACE) and for the Namibia University of Science and Technology NAWA Journal of Languages and Communication. Her main research interests include rhetoric, languages, communication, politics, and law. Contact Frieda at\


Aristotle. (2007). On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse. Translated by G. Kennedy. New York: Oxford.

Bitzer, L. F, (1980). Functional Communication: A Situational Perspective. Rhetoric in Transition: Studies in the Nature and Uses of Rhetoric. Ed. Eugene E. White. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Bitzer, L. F. (1968). The Rhetorical Situation. Philosophy & Rhetoric 1(1), 1-104.

Ceaser, J, Thurow, G. E., Tulis, J., & Bessette, J. M. (1981). The Rise of the Rhetorical Presidency. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 11, 158-171.

Constitution of the Republic of Namibia (2nd ed)(2010). Windhoek: Ministry Information Communication and Technology.

Coronavirus Disease COVID-19 Pandemic|UNDP

Deloitte Report, (2020). COVID-19 Pandemic: Announcement of economic stimulus and relieve package by the Minister of Finance.

Dinh H. T., (2020). COVID -19 and Govenment Policies. 19-and government-policies#.XvNflSkzbIV.

Filardo-Llamas, L. (2014). “Between the Union and a United Ireland: Shifting Positions in Northern Ireland’s Post-Agreement Political Discourse.” In From Text to Political Positions: Text Analysis Across Disciplines, ed. by Bertie Kaal, Isa Maks and Annemarie van Elfrinkhof, 207–225. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Doi:10.1075/dapsac.55.10fil.

Geingob, H, G. (2020). Statement by H.E President Hage G Geingob Declaration of State of Emergency: National Disaster (COVID-19): Namibian Constitution.

Geingob, H, G. (2020). Statement by H.E President Hage G Geingob following Confirmation of Two Cases of COVID 19 on Namibian Soil.

Medhurst, M. J., (2007) Rhetorical Leadership and the Presidency: A situational Taxonomy. In T.L Price &J.T. Wren (Eds.), The values of presidential leadership (pp. 59-84) New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Namibia COVID-19 Situation Report no. 63 & 96

Neuff, M., (2018). Words Crisis as Words of Power: The jeremiad in American Presidential speeches. Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture (DAPSAC). John Benjamins Publishing Company Amsterdam/Philadelphia.

Neustadt, R. E, (1990). Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: the Politics of Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan. (New York, NY: The Free Press.

Office of the Prime Minister Annual report, (2016-2017) & (2018-2019). Directorate Disaster Risk Management: UZeZ&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=normal&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=colun-2 2&p_p_col_count=1&_

Pohamba, H. (2013). Statement by H.E President Hifukepunye Pohamba Declaration of State of Emergency: National Disaster (Drought): Namibian Constitution

Tulis, J. (1987). The Rhetorical Presidency. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Werth, P. (1999). Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.