… Of President Geingob and slate at the 6th Swapo Congress
By Moses Pakote
THE 766 Swapo delegates, by handing a historic two-thirds majority victory to President Hage Gottfried Geingob and his slate, which removed all top seven rival contenders from the Swapo Central Committee and the Politburo, have spoken as ONE.
They have rescued the party, by unequivocally rejecting the disunity signified by the “two centres of power”, while upholding the sacrosanctity of “One Namibia, One Nation”, as the chief cornerstone principle of the Namibian House.
In this case, it can be stated without pretensions that Vox populi dixit (the people have spoken) and that Vox populi, is vox Dei! (The voice of the people is the Voice of God!).
However, the rejection of the “two centres of power” concept should not be misconstrued both by its proponents and opponents, as the rejection of the personalities of the party veterans in the former ‘Team Swapo’. NO, on the contrary, their invaluable contributions to Namibia’s decolonisation are forever etched in the annals of Namibian history. For their heroic contributions, the Namibian generations, present and future, remain profoundly indebted in gratitude to party veterans, the likes of comrades Nahas Angula, Jerry Ekandjo, Petrus Iilonga, Helmut Angula, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Ben Amadhila and others.
What was rejected absolutely is the substance, methodology and strategies of their campaign message which the delegates found divisive, personal, confrontational and disturbingly harmful to the party and country unity.
The former ‘Team Swapo’ conveyed an incoherent message, complemented by a one-sided top four line-up and wrong campaign strategies, which unfortunately projected a public image of tribal supremacy, which did not sit well in Namibia’s post-apartheid socio-political-Christianity set-up.
Additionally, the former ‘Team Swapo’ campaign strategy seemingly did not consider the obvious arithmetic of the congress delegates. Regions are deliberately so structured to compel prospective hopefuls to have broad-based regional, as opposed to single constituency support; because, even with the solid backing of the most populous four O-regions and the Kavango East and West regions, minus the other eight political regions, victory would be elusive.
As a result, since former ‘Team Swapo’ was outwitted in these six regions, and had little support in the rest, it never stood a chance.
As stated before, the former ‘Team Swapo’ never came across as a group with a reasonable cause for its existence.
It simply lacked a credible raison d’être (most important reason for its existence) to draw popular support across the tribal divide of delegates, which was the causa principalis of its decisive Waterloo.
‘Team Swapo’ also fell in the entitlement trap, just like many party cadres who easily forget Swapo’s original objective and confused it with all sorts of things it never was meant to be, such as being a promoter of one or the other archaic ideology or group interests.
As the second President of Namibia, Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba, poignantly reminded the delegates, Swapo’s original mandate was to achieve a free and independent Namibia, and to forge it into a new united and democratic nation.
After this was achieved, the party shifted prominence to the struggle for economic freedom. This new struggle needs young blood with new and relevant ideas, strategies and competencies, than needed for the liberation struggle, to wage a successful campaign. Accordingly, the Sixth Swapo Congress outcomes for the Central Committee, with a substantial portion of new and young cadres, clearly signalled a seismic generational shift in this direction, from the old guard to the youth and women. These will form the nucleus of the 21st century Swapo Party to conclude the economic struggle.
As for the victorious former Team Harambee, which cogently articulated its message in line with the Swapo ethos, it was handsomely rewarded by the congress delegates. Their victory is a telling sign of the enormous confidence of the party membership in President’s Geingob’s leadership, and his slate, to steer the party and country to the promised land of shared prosperity.
His work is well cut out as to DELIVER, DELIVER, and DELIVER on the huge expectations of the nation, as per the 2014 Swapo Election Manifesto.
Nonetheless, the real intent of the historic landslide Swapo Congress victory is for President Geingob to be sufficiently empowered, just as his predecessors were, to govern as a sovereign in addressing national challenges facing the party and the country, without fear or constraint.
The additional party powers, have now vested President Geingob’s administration with a heavy responsibility to act decisively to resolve the many outstanding national problems, such as unemployment, poverty, slow economic growth, increasing crime levels, the increasing drug trade and usage in the country, insufficient housing, the land question and so forth.
Yet, to register noticeable economic and social progress in the remaining two years of the president’s first term, the new Swapo leadership is required at the government level to change gears, and accelerate public service performance through bold innovative projects and the balancing of political and technocratic leadership in strategic sectors. There is also a need to review, identify, and remedy bureaucratic bottlenecks which are stifling progressive decision-making and service delivery. Economically, to overcome the present depressed conditions, more than austerity financial measures; massive foreign investments and capital inflows are direly essential, without which the economy cannot move out of the doldrums. But to draw such investment flows, the country has to fast rid itself from the self-delusionary populist choruses of ‘we do not need foreign investments’ (for if that was true, thousands of white and black Namibians would by now have set-up their 100 percent-owned uranium mines, huge industrial factories, agricultural goods exporting farms, etc. We are undeniably in an economic and financial fix, and need just like other countries in similar situations, quick outside help, as per our economic reconstruction plan.
At the party level, as per the president’s campaign message, Swapo ought to rapidly develop internal systems capacity required for the second struggle of economic freedom, and correspondingly overhaul its administration, to become a 21st century progressive, responsive and relevant political party.
Moreover, as the revolutionary Deng Xiaoping, the People’s Republic of China’s premier reformer, and the father of modern China (chief architect of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics), after 1978 retired en masse the old cadres of the Communist Party of China, steeped in the old Maoists ideology and incapable of embracing the sweeping systemic changes needed through the Open Door Policy to modernise China, veteran Swapo cadres too need to be retired. They have commendably contributed to the liberation struggle, but are unable, to understand or direct the reinvention and revitalisation processes mandatory for Swapo to continue as Namibia’s 21st century vanguard party.
They, being still in yesteryears ways of conducting party business, with a bias for political preoccupation, may find it difficult to deal with powerful inventions, such as social media and complex economic predicaments. However, the veterans already in office as, per President Geingob’s message on generational cross-pollination; should continue to politically guide the second and third youth generations of Swapo leaders, while the retired ones desist from seeking public office again, as a means of income.
Rather, similar to presidents Nujoma and Pohamba, they are to play an impartial advisory guiding role as patriots, and not clamour for personal interests, as seen in their (some) recent party injurious political comeback efforts at the Sixth Swapo Congress.
Equally, both Presidents Nujoma and Pohamba indicated, and President Geingob affirmed in his victory speech, that all these teams (Harambee and ‘Swapo’) should now disappear with the end of the Sixth Congress, with only a united and purpose-driven Swapo in place.
In this regard, President Geingob, being a unifier, extended an olive branch to the former ‘Team Swapo’ members, by selflessly declaring that no retributions (and witch-hunts) are to be made against them. He also declared his willingness to maintain party unity, by working with all members.
Of course on the part of the former ‘Team Swapo’ members there should be demonstrated willingness to collaborate, as equally graciously offered by the top seven conceding members.
Hence, no secretive meetings, undermining clandestine activities, new agendas and support to pseudo-civic institutions, seeking the erosion of the party’s legitimacy, should be discerned. The party should rather close ranks against such divisive distractions and potential agent saboteurs, and concentrate on its core mandate which is the effective governance of the country, for achieving the Vision 2030 key objectives, such as industrialisation, through the national development plans and the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
Swapo can ill-afford the fixation on self-centered unending and unproductive congressional infightings for political power, while the people are crying out for the basic necessities of life. Thus, President Geingob’s expressed wish that the Sixth Congress be the last of the acrimonious kind is a step in the right direction which all Swapo members should embrace.
Political maturity and humility is now necessary among the rank-and-file members, to make-up and move on in unity, including the radical revolutionaries on both sides, as well as the president’s former close associates; so that bygones remain bygones, for the sake of national interests, and a new exciting chapter of an emerging 21st century Swapo and Namibia.
*This commentary is written entirely in my personal capacity, as a private citizen
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015