Goodbye 2006

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Prime Minister Nahas Angula says 2006 was the year in which the political transition, which took place last year when the country’s Founding President, Sam Nujoma, handed the reins over to President Hifikepunye Pohamba, was finally consolidated. Angula said the country now can safely state that it had a peaceful political transition and this could be attributed to the role Nujoma and Pohamba played during the process. “The Founding President has always remained a stabilizing force despite quitting government.” The Premier noted that Nujoma wisely and positively contributed to issues facing the country and his timely intervention in the ex-combatants and Shebeens saga should be commended. “The Founding President used his role, as the party president at arm’s length, positively.” Angula also observed that Pohamba, since taking over and especially in 2006, has adopted a style of collective responsibility and has shown that he believes in consultation. “The cabinet has a number of sub-committees and issues which, before they come to cabinet, are discussed by cabinet ministers directly responsible.” The Premier said this practice has created a sense of teamwork and is one of the reasons why the country is doing well. The Prime Minister hopes that peaceful political transition will become the trend for Namibia in the future. Angula refuted claims that the internal squabbles in the ruling party are spilling over into the running of government. He said it is only perceptions that people – who support Swapo presidential candidate Hidipo Hamutenya – are being pushed out of government. “The transition at Nampower was not politically driven and people should learn to look at the issue and not colour things the way they want.” He said even in cases where an individual was found guilty of misconduct, people always want to make it a political issue. “Look at the matter of the former NBC Director-General. Was that politically motivated?” The Premier further noted that another political issue, which continues to haunt the country, is the Caprivi trial. He described the Caprivi Region as the ‘Northern Ireland’ of Namibia, and said the problem of Caprivi has been there before independence and will remain for many years to come. He warned that if the rivalries between the communities are not managed properly it could destabilize the security and peace in the country. Angula put the blame for the tension in the region squarely on former DTA parliamentarian, Mishake Muyongo. “Muyongo quit as vice-president of the Swapo Party at a critical time and, when he joined the DTA, he misled some members of the community who followed him.” He added that these followers of Muyongo, who had previously contributed to the national liberation struggle, were sidelined because they had joined the opposition and thus did not directly benefit from the new development plans. On the clashes that took place in Aminuis in the Omaheke Region where a 25-year-old man was shot dead, Angula said the incident was an effect of the Herero politics. He noted that the Herero politics are based on traditional leadership, and a party can have no significant support if they are not linked to a traditional chief. “There is a mix-up with national politics and traditional matters, but I hope the tragic incident has sent a serious warning to the leaders to make a difference between the two.” Angula commended the opposition political parties for the contribution they have made during the year. He said the opposition contributed positively during many debates and motions in parliament and played an important role as members of different parliamentary committees. He noted, however, that some opposition political parties are lately trying to sabotage the operations of the government. He claimed that the Congress of Democrats (CoD) has infiltrated the labour market, especially the fishing industry, and that it is causing a lot of uncertainty in the fish labour market. The Premier said that during his recent visit to LÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼deritz he had learned that a company such as NovaNam was facing serious labour problems mainly due to political influence and they were planning to hire labour from outside the country. The head of government also claimed that the recent nurses? demonstrations were caused by opposition political parties trying to use the workers for their own benefit. According to the premier, the year 2007 will be an important one for both the Swapo Party and the country. He said the outcome of the Swapo Party Congress could change the complexion of the party and government. “The party will be electing a new president, politburo, central committee members and new resolutions.” He noted that usually the people elected in the politburo and central committee make up the cabinet. Local political analyst, Bill Lindinke, said 2006 was a year of continuity. He noted that although there was great potential for something dramatic to happen, it never did, and the political transition was consolidated even more. The former political lecturer at the University of Namibia stated that next year could be more eventful with the ruling party staging its Congress but said that even if the politburo and central committee faced change, things would remain the same. Another political analyst based in France, Tjiurimo Hengari, described the year 2006 as a year of mixed results. He noted that there were high expectations from the nation but, in the end, 2006 appears to have been a ‘lost year’. Hengari said the Prime Minister had a strong mandate to reform parastatals but that the country continued to see the same problems at the State-owned companies. He added that the Anti-Corruption Commission was another disappointment and said the commission needs to show its teeth and that it can seriously deal with corruption. At the ruling party level, Hengari said there is still a paralysis, which is a spill-over from the last Swapo Extraordinary Congress. He noted that this year had been a perfect opportunity for Pohamba to build the burned bridges within the party but the latter had made little effort in this regard. “It was a year in which we expected Pohamba to impose himself, but it appears he is unable to do that.” He said that, in terms of government delivery, the same diagnosis that was made in 1999, remained. Government does not appear to be ready to go into overdrive to deliver to the nation. Hengari noted that, although there was a transition at the top (government leadership), there was little change in the running of the State. “I would have expected change in the style of leadership, politics in the country and the manner in which appointments are made, but things have remained the same”. On the 2007 Congress next year, Hengari said that, despite the hype about the Congress, it could turn out to be a non-event. “The debate in Swapo is not about ideas, but loyalty. So nothing can come from the Congress.”