By Emma Kakololo
Former national chairman of Swapo Party, Mburumba Kerina, has applauded the party’s decision to re-activate the position of National Chairman and subsequently elect, Dr Sam Nujoma, in that position.
In an exclusive interview with New Era on Friday, the first chairman of Swapo Party before the late David Meroro, Kerina said Nujoma was the right candidate to fill the position, as he would be able to unite the party especially with the current infightings.
“He will remain as a glue in these difficult times to keep the party and the whole nation together. The chairman of the party is not a public relations position. It is a very difficult position because basically, it is that position that holds the party together,” said Kerina.
“With his history behind him and his work and contribution for the freedom and independence of our country, I wish him good luck if he assumes this position.”
Nujoma, who has been Swapo Party President for 47 years, recently announced that he was not going to stand for party presidency at the coming Swapo Party congress in November, a move that Nujoma hopes would pave way for the party’s vice-president, Hifikepunye Pohamba, the Head of State since 2005, to take over.
With regard to Nujoma’s departure as president of the party Kerina said: “I don’t think Nujoma’s retirement should be regarded as a failure. I think he must be big enough to accept it in order for his reputation to be glorified by the Namibian nation and the world.”
According to him, Nujoma has done a good job for the country, and has left monuments in a period of 17 years that could have taken others a long time to build.
“Because unlike the former British colonies and French colonies and Spanish colonies, who had their grandfathers, their sugar daddies to foot their bills and help them with development after independence, South Africa just left us abruptly as orphans on the streets.
“But that did not even discourage Nujoma from holding the nation together in the difficult period after the war. He stood by us. Today we have universities, an independent government and one of the most beautiful constitutions on the African continent. I feel with that record Nujoma has nothing to lose by retiring.”
Kerina and Nujoma have known each other since the formation of Swapo. The two were the party’s two main lieutenants even before April 9, 1960, when Owamboland People’s Organisation (OPO) became history and the movement transformed into Swapo.
Personal and ‘philosophical’ differences led Kerina to leave Swapo for South West African National Union (Swanu).
“Sam (Nujoma) has been a victim of those politicians who go around flattering him thinking that he wants to know only those things that are good about him. I was never like that when I was associated with Sam.
“I have always taken a position when seeing things are not going in the right direction, to caution him and advise him with respect that the moves we were intending to take would probably have far reaching repercussions against us.
“And maybe at times, Sam thought that I did not trust him; because he was exposed to this politicians’ gossips about fellow members so that they can be awarded certain positions and so forth in the party. And this has probably led to our separation eventually. Not that I was disgusted with the party because I was a co-founder of the OPC that became OPO and eventually transformed into Swapo,” said Kerina.
Having known Nujoma for such a long time, Kerina also dismissed allegations that Nujoma might not keep his word.
“I think we should not harbour those thoughts. Because of his age, he would remain a symbol of national unity under that position because we are just an infant country – 17 years old – we would still have many problems – intertribal, international – to resolve.
“And I think, as a man who is actually the Namibian embodiment of the Namibian liberation struggle up to independence, he will continue to be a valuable commodity as far as the party and unity is concerned,” he added.
According to Kerina, the people who harbour those ideas have legitimate reasons because of the crisis that the party has gone through the years.
However, this should not distract citizens’ commitment to national integrity.
“We must be like the Chinese who after independence President Sun Yat-sen said let the young draw their inspiration and their experience from the old guards.
“You will find that combination working perfectly well for China and that attitude that has bridged the generation gap between the old and new to make China a great nation in the world today.
“Why should young people be afraid of the old guards who have given them the future that they might not have even been able to enjoy in the their lifetime? Let’s not be confused by the generation gap and the negative elements that want to exploit that gap,” he emphasised.
(Read full interview in the Friday edition)