The ruling Swapo Party is capitalizing on the suffering of the drought-stricken subsistence farmers and others apparently in order to stem losing members to the newly-formed Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) in the four north-western regions of the country, also commonly known as Ovamboland.
Since last Monday, SWAPO Party Regional Councillors have embarked on what appears to be a major political corruption exercise. The said Councillors have been systematically calling upon tractor owners to report to the offices of” the SWAPO Government” Ministry of Agriculture in order to register for State subsidy to plough mahangu fields of subsistence farmers in the Ovambo district.
“Since Monday this week, we have been monitoring with grave concern these calls and public announcements on the popular local NBC’s Oshiwambo language service morning programme, Lunganda. The subsidy is clearly intended to benefit Oshiwambo-speaking and SWAPO supporting subsistence farmers only in order to stifle the growing support for RDP.
In addition to what we believe is a clear case of political corruption, we would like to know whether these ploughing operations have been budgeted for prior,” said NSHR spokesperson Dorkas Phillemon.
Since RDP formally came into existence on November 17, 2007, President Pohamba and certain ministers in his Cabinet have been making promising announcements of benevolence and benefaction to the general public in the Ovambo district.
“For example on November 15, 2007, i.e. two days before the launch of RDP, the Government all of a sudden announced that all the water points closed due to unpaid fees must now be opened. Secondly, the government has also lately been unusually praising certain Ovambo traditional leaders as well as church leaders connected to ELCIN (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia).
During the last eleven days President Pohamba attended at least two church services, first at Ondobe village in the Ondobe Constituency of the Ohangwena Region on December 31, 2007, then at Nakayale, near Outapi, in the Omusati Region last Sunday.
The Head of State even made a contribution of N$2 000 to the construction of a new ELCIN church building at Nakayale,” noted NSHR executive director Phil ya Nangoloh.
NSHR is concerned that President Pohamba’s and his SWAPO Party’s conduct, involving the abuse of State facilities to hold partisan political rallies amounts to political corruption.
This state of affairs is reminiscent of the conduct by which then Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab made promises to the flood-stricken people of the Caprivi Region shortly before the 2004 general elections.
Theo-Ben Gurirab then said:
“Keep trust in your Government, and when the time to vote comes, vote for Swapo.
“Our President is a strong and caring leader. But there are things which even our strong president cannot stop, things like drought and floods.”
Moreover, a reliable source in the office of Oshikoto Regional Governor Penda ya Ndakolo yesterday told NSHR monitors that only those tractor owners and subsistence farmers who declare their allegiance to the SWAPO Party will benefit from the subsidized ploughing scheme.
Speaking at Outapi over the weekend, the President urged members of the general public to report corrupt practices to his office.
“If the President allows the usage of State vehicles and other facilities to be enlisted to organize SWAPO party political rallies, then one is left wondering whether the President really understands what corruption means, or if he does, whether he is really genuine about combating the scourge.
We must therefore remind him of his inaugural speech on March 21, 2005, when he promised to set a personal example in fighting corruption in this country,” Ya Nangoloh said
Meanwhile, NSHR is concerned that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) appears to be dragging its feet in dealing decisively with serious allegations of corrupt practices at the Omuthiya Settlement, some 70 km east of Ondangwa, in the Oshikoto Region.
Several residents of the said settlement have accused Governor ya Ndakolo and some of his staffers of corrupt practices regarding the acquisition of land and State contracts at the settlement.
In a replying letter addressed to NSHR on June 19, 2007, the ACC assured NSHR executive director Phil ya Nangoloh that it was “assessing the matter and will advise you in due course what action(s) we have taken.”
National Society of Human Rights (NSHR)