Is Swapo Splitting?

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Farayi Munyuki Two years ago, I wrote that no political party would cause a split within Swapo except Swapo itself. Reading the statement given by Jesaya Nyamu on his expulsion from the party, it does appear that the party is slowly drifting apart. This is how UNIP in Zambia got itself decimated at the polls that led to the demise of Dr Kenneth Kaunda. Ever since, it has failed to return to its former self. Instead, characters like Frederick Chiluba emerged as president of that great country only with one ambition, to amass wealth. UNIP has undergone a lot of changes, but it has failed to attract people of high stature within its ranks. In the end, it was the educated members of UNIP and those who did not see university colleges. Then came the unfortunate episode when each of Dr Kaunda’s sons wanted to take over the mantle from their father and lead UNIP. That also failed to bring back the old UNIP. If what Nyamu says is true that he has known the President for the past 40 years, then why hasn’t he been addressing his concerns and perhaps changes that he has been seeking would have happened? This, of course is not a major crisis to have hit Swapo in its existence. At the height of the struggle, Misheke Muyongo and others tried to unseat the president. That in itself failed miserably. Then the South Africans blindly lured Shipanga who is now languishing in the North as a night watchman. Muyongo and Shipanga are different from Nyamu. These were power hungry men. Nyamu has an impeccable record as a staunch Swapo member. He has been in the party for 40 years, a record that some do not have. His loyalty, like good meat, speaks for itself. But that cannot be said of Muyongo and Shipanga. They tried to form their own political parties and that did not do well at the polls. One now lives in Denmark as a political refugee who fled the country when his short-lived attempt to topple an elected government by means of arms failed. The charges that Nyamu advances about the way the party is run are quite serious and one hopes that the party will respond to them in the spirit of forgiveness. It doesn’t help the party or its followers to drift asunder when correctional measures can be taken. Who ever thought that the mighty Malawi Congress Party under the indisputable leadership of Dr Kamuzu Banda would end up in a grave along the main thoroughfare in Lilongwe, and that the Palace he had built for himself would one day be used to repeal repressive laws he had made for the people of Malawi? The people of Malawi suffered irreparably under Dr Banda. The Chisiza brothers, Aleke Banda at one time were turned into enemies of the state. Thank heavens, this has not happened here. Did anyone ever imagine that an unknown politician would silence Daniel arap Moi in Kenya at the polls? It is true that African politics are full of intrigues and machinations. It will not help Swapo but its enemies to fight publicly over issues that can be sorted out at a round table. Dialogue within the party is what is needed at this moment and not labelling one another. We saw this during Mobutu Sese Seko’s period and the country almost broke asunder had it not been for Namibian and Zimbabwean forces that went in and restored a constitutional government. The same could be said of the Kingdom of Lesotho. One hopes that the spirit of reconciliation and unity within Swapo will one day resurrect and when that happens, Swapo will have returned to its old self. After all it’s a great party with a potential to remain at the crest of Namibian politics for a long time to come.