The truism of the assertion that great ambition is the passion of a great character and those endowed with it may perform very good or very bad acts because it all depends on the principles which direct them, bears testimony to the exodus of former Swapo stalwarts and recent renegades back into the fold of Swapo.
Strong principles, whether individual or political, usually withstand the test and morality of compromise. Strong, heroic and principled human beings never compromise their principles irrespective of the challenges they face. If principles were compromised because of the challenges that individuals face, it is safe to say the independence of Namibia would still be a pipe dream.
It is unimaginable what would have happened if Cde Sam Nujoma had waived his principles during the struggle, or if Cde Andimba Toivo ya Toivo had dovetailed because of the hardships of prison life.
Picture the hardships that PLAN combatants, internal party activists, political prisoners and others had to endure for our independence. What would have happened if they had compromised their principles for the liberation of Namibia? Not only that, picture the hundreds of thousands of Swapo members who selflessly toil day and night for the good of the party without expecting an elevated position.
When late Cde Richard Kapelwa Kabajani, a PLAN military strategist, was demoted to head the Swapo Pioneers Movement in 1986/87, many expected him to be resentful or complain. He remained unmoved and focused his attention on the main goal – contributing in whatever way to the liberation of Namibia until he was returned to his position as deputy secretary for defence.
He qualified a famous African adage, which says, “I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. It is the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct will pursue his principles unto death.” Others would have defected.
It is joyful to welcome hundreds of thousands of Namibians into the fold of Swapo. The political nomadism into Swapo will continue, and it is good for the party. What is of interest, however, is the return to the fold of Swapo of Hidipo Hamutenya and other leaders of RDP.
Statements being made by both sides are not only interesting but beg interrogation. Firstly, when one googles the name Hidipo Hamutenya, one of the sites that come up is the Swapo website accompanied by a headline that reads “Hidipo Hamutenya reunites with comrades in puppetry”.
The eighth paragraph of the article states: “In exile, Hidipo waged a 40-year campaign on orders and guidance from his western masters to unseat Sam Nujoma and become President of Swapo. This campaign was a bloody one in which thousands of Swapo freedom fighters lost their lives in a secret war waged from within.”
Why would the party allow this information on its website that can be accessed by all and sundry if what is quoted is not true as the secretary general said when receiving Hamutenya: “Hidipo Hamutenya never left the struggle and never betrayed the struggle, but it was one of those things that happen in any other party whereby three or four leaders may differ.”
Leadership in-fights and differences in opinions are now bandied together as plausible excuses for leaving Swapo and forming a rival party. Even accusations that “Swapo has been stealing elections”, including taking Swapo to court – actions which tarnish the image and integrity of the party, and should ordinarily be viewed as serious misconduct should they be uttered or done by a loyal member of the party – are today celebrated as manna from heaven.
What exactly are the changes (leadership or otherwise) that have taken place in Swapo since the defection of erstwhile Swapo stalwarts and the formation of RDP?
Subtle statements from both Swapo and those being welcomed point an accusing finger to Cde Sam Nujoma for one thing and one thing only. This is summed up by Hidipo Hamutenya when he said upon his return to Swapo: “In 2004, it was Sam who drove the whole thing. He was determined that I do not come out victorious.”
This same blame was made before he and others left Swapo. Fortunate for them, the accusation is now being celebrated and entertained.
One would wish to assume that the protection of the liberation credentials of those returning to the Swapo fold is the main reason for their return.
One cannot begrudge or downplay their contributions to the liberation of the country. What is most worrying is that many in the leadership have stooped to the level of accepting, or at least seem to be echoing the insinuation that Cde Nujoma is responsible for the exodus of those who left Swapo and formed rival parties.
It is grossly unfair to belittle the legacy of Cde Nujoma in the manner that it is being done currently within the circles of Swapo Party, portraying him as a divisive factor rather than a unifier. Surely Cde Nujoma deserves more credit than the insults being pedaled by self-centered liberators who are being welcomed with open arms. It is unfortunate that ingrates are bandying together to vilify Cde Nujoma.
The main credential of a leader is that he/she must stand for something and not just float directionless like a balloon. A politician who cuts his nose to spite his face cannot be trusted because he lacks principles and stands for nothing.
Unfortunately for Namibia, the lack of political principles is generated by prebendalism in our politics. Soon, very soon indeed, one or two of the defectors will be serving as advisor at one of our ministries.
• Dr Charles Mubita holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California.