The Hour of Truth has come for the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) whose congress starts tomorrow in Rundu. The congress presents an opportunity for the embattled party wing to rise to the challenge. Delegates to this congress have to use the occasion to close ranks and move forward in unity, instead of delving in petty squabbling and infighting based on personalities. The SPWC has to take the lead by uniting its members around issues that specifically affect its constituency and the broader party membership because of the special place that women have both in society and at family level. Women are known for their big hearts, for their care and love than their male counterparts, hence this congress should be a place of love and camaraderie. The SPWC congress should set the tone and provide hope that women are ready to take their place and that nothing will stand in their way. They should speak with one voice. They must show that they are ready to take the mantle of leadership, after being sidelined for so long, by holding one of the most successful congresses. Of course, individual delegates to this all-important congress may have special interests. But that being the case, it is also true that there are overriding common interests around which the delegates can and should unite and forge a common purpose. As mothers of this nation and leaders of the ruling Swapo Party in their own right, the delegates to the SPWC congress in Rundu must be aware that all eyes are on them. They cannot afford to disappoint the country. On the eve of the SPWC congress at the weekend, its Secretary Eunice Iipinge has come out against an unnamed SPWC leader whose conduct she characterised as resembling that of a “bee queen”. She also revealed that there is infighting in the party wing and that it is based on tribal lines because some leaders want to have delegates vote in a block. Well, it is not difficult to guess who the “Bee Queen” is, nor the reasons for the seemingly harsh verdict by the secretary who suggests that the “Bee Queen” must be removed from the leadership of the party wing. This is unfortunate to say the least and Secretary Iipinge should have known better that it is unhelpful to publicly scold and scorn a fellow leader, never mind the fact that she did not name her. In any case, the SPWC is small and many people will know who the accused person is. If the “Bee Queen” is the problem and a troublemaker who is stirring up division in the party wing, Iipinge as Secretary of the SPWC has all the instruments of power – both administrative and legal to sort her out. Why not take that route? Lest we are misunderstood, we are not saying Iipinge has her facts wrong. Neither are we defending the indefensible – those who cause disunity. All we are saying is that statements like the one made by the Secretary have the potential to undermine the proceedings of the impending congress because they are divisive. Such matters are better dealt with internally using the party rules that surely outlaw division. The latest gaffe could help inflame tensions during the congress and raise political temperatures with dire consequences for the outcome of the congress. The SPWC congress that comes ahead of the party congress in 2007 must serve as a prelude for peace and reconciliation. Our leaders must do everything in their power to preach peace and practice harmony. The country cannot afford further divisions and infighting especially within the ruling party because it is this party that has been tasked with the welfare of the state. They have to set the example and lead the country to prosperity in peace and stability. Again, we hope this incident will not derail the congress for much is at stake here for both the country and women in particular. Much remains to be done to advance issues that affect this constituency and the general public. Women continue to be victims of violence and those who lead them cannot afford to engage in harsh rhetoric against one another. It is time to make peace and move forward.
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