Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Jeremiah Nambinga says he is not bothered by the defection of some of the party’s key founding members, who quit the party to rejoin Swapo, saying they have no political
relevance and have been inactive in the party since 2013.
While Nambinga dismissed any major consequences the defections may have on his party, political analysts are of the view that the opposite is quite likely. During a press conference yesterday, Nambinga referred to former director of elections Phillemon Kanime, Magnus Nangombe, Ambassador Shapwa Kaukungua and Reverend Festus Naholo as “deserters” and “cowards” who make themselves guilty of hypocrisy of the highest order.
The quartet this week followed in the footsteps of former RDP president Hidipo Hamutenya, who also rejoined
Swapo earlier this year. Media reports yesterday indicated that former RDP secretary general Jesaya Nyamu was also
contemplating leaving the RDP for Swapo, the party that excommunicated him in 2006.
“We don’t rely on speculation. We will pronounce ourselves immediately when it happens. I’m not an angel. I can’t see into the hearts of people. I can say that the majority of RDP members will stay,” Nambinga said in response to questions about Nyamu’s possible defection. He said the party has a plan to arrest the mass exodus of members.
Political analyst Graham Hopwood believes the return of some Hamutenya supporters to Swapo is mainly about elderly former protagonists in the liberation struggle returning in the twilight of their political careers to what
they see as their political home. “I don’t think it will have a significant impact on Swapo’s internal politics or the run-up to the 2017 congress,” Hopwood said.
“The implications are far greater for the RDP, whose support plummeted from 11 percent to less than four percent at last year’s elections. If they go lower than their 2014 result at this [upcoming] election it may be very difficult for them to bounce back.” Nambinga, however, differed with Hopwood’s prognosis, saying the RDP is alive and kicking.
“We are here and we will be here. Little did we know that these people are hypocrites of the highest order.
“These people stood with us and pretended they were serious, not only about their stomachs, but about the Namibian nation. “For now it is safe to conclude that these people participated in the formation of the RDP for personal gain and not to stand and fight for the plight of the masses of this country,” he charged.
Nambinga further noted his surprise that the “deserters” are all of a sudden saying, “Everything is well in Swapo”, while he can specifically recall that in 2009 Naholo said Swapo was responsible for the massacre of innocent Namibians on April 1, 1989.
“It is fresh in our minds that the likes of Elijah Ngurare and the Job Amupanda were just expelled for expressing themselves as members of this party. “But immediately when the leadership realised that these youth want to paint a different picture, what happened? And our former colleagues are saying everything is well and they went back. They even called us to apparently go back. What an insult!” he remarked.
Hopwood in turn said the RDP is at a critical juncture because most of its senior figures, who in fact founded the party, have now left and gone back to Swapo. The November election, Hopwood argues, will likely indicate
whether the RDP has the potential to grow in future or whether it will go into terminal decline, as the former official opposition party, the Congress of Democrats (CoD), did before them.
He said the RDP needs to establish itself as a party with a clear agenda and vision, rather than just as a group of individuals who have fallen out with Swapo at some point. “The example of the DTA, which is now picking up support again – albeit from a low base – may give RDP activists hope, but ultimately they will need to think
about some kind of cooperation or merger with the DTA if they are to survive,” he suggested.