By Kuvee Kangueehi
Namibia’s oldest political party, Swanu, will hold its ordinary congress during the first week of November in the capital.
Swanu president, Rihupisa Kandando, told New Era yesterday that the congress was supposed to take place next year in March but has been fast-tracked to November to allow the party enough time to prepare for the national parliamentary elections in 2009.
He said he expects a total revamp of the top leadership of the party, as the party wants to improve its capacity and intensity on the Namibian political landscape.
He said the party is looking for a new vibrant leadership to lead the party for the next five years.
Kandando also noted that the party wants its members who remained in the country to become more active in the party as currently people who went into exile especially those from Dukwe Camp in Botswana are more active.
The party is expected to review its performance over the last five years and do a post- mortem on their participation in the 2004 national parliamentary elections.
He said: “We want to improve on our performance during the last elections and consolidate the gains we made during that election.”
Kandando admitted that the party has been performing poorly in the general elections and said the set-up in the country does not favour smaller parties.
“Government funding is determined by the number of seats one has in Parliament and the media coverage we get does not allow us to mobilise effectively to get enough votes,” he added.
The Swanu party has 27 branches over the country and delegates will come from branches in the Omaheke, Otjozondjupa, Kavango, Khomas and Caprivi regions.
Kandando said the congress is open to all the members of the party. They will be allowed to sit and contribute to debates but only the delegates will be allowed to vote.
Kandando, who appeared to be playing his cards close to his chest, declined to disclose whether he will stand for re-election or not.
Kandando has been the leader of Swanu since 1998 and was previously the representative of the party in the UK and Germany.
He joined Swanu when he was 15 in 1978 and became a member of the party’s Revolutionary Council in 1986. He fled into exile in 1981 and was entrusted with Swanu disciplinary matters among refugees at the Dukwe Camp in Botswana, before moving to West Germany and then the UK.
At its inception in 1959, Swanu looked like it would emerge as a key movement spearheading the campaign for the independence of Namibia.
Formed on September 27, 1959, Swanu had the backing of the Herero Chiefs Council (HCC) under Chief Hosea Kutako. Some of its founding members included leading nationalists such as Zed Ngavirue, Jariretundu Kozonguizi and Clemens Kapuuo.
The growth of the party was cut short following friction within the HCC, when Swanu was perceived as being too radical, and the emergence of Swapo in 1960.
Swanu’s growth was also inhibited by its narrow support base and the domination of its leadership by Herero intellectuals.
Swanu continues to strive for the creation of a socialist state in Namibia, and to present an option for voters who are left disinclined.
During the 1999 National Assembly elections, Kandando led Swanu into an electoral pact with the Workers Revolutionary Party, but the alliance could only muster 1???_?_’???_?’???_???