In March this year Hidipo Hamutenya wrote a letter to Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) secretary general Mike Kavekotora, announcing that he had gone back on his decision to resign from his position as president of the party.
Hamutenya said in his eleventh-hour letter – delivered on the day his supposed resignation was to come into effect – that he in fact did not want to resign, but a faction in the party was attempting to usher him through the exit door.
“I would like to make it categorically clear that during the abovementioned [central committee] meeting, I was pushed out by a faction of the leadership, which has for the past months declared a crusade against me for allegedly causing the poor performance of the party in the recently held national elections,” Hamutenya stated in his letter.
Hamutenya said he was “persistently coerced” to make known the exact date of his retirement, “which as party president I eventually did against my conscience and against my human rights”.
Fast-forward to nine months later – and specifically to next weekend – when Hamutenya is billed to address a Swapo rally in Ohangwena Region. This, after he returned to Swapo in August – amid much ululation, pomp and fanfare.
Critics in Swapo, especially those gloating in their own sense of self-importance and those scrambling for the spotlight and recognition, are castigating the party for its decision to elevate Hamutenya to the podium next weekend already.
Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba, speaking to The Namibian yesterday, defended the party’s decision. He said Hamutenya’s addressing a rally did not mean he has joined the party leadership yet.
Contrary to views held by some in Swapo, political analysts believe the move is meant to break the RDP’s perceived stronghold in Ohangwena.
A native of Ohangwena, Hamutenya commands a strong following in the region, who recently welcomed the return of their “prodigal son” from what they perceive as a political wilderness.
Commentator Uazuva Kaumbi believes the invitation to Hamutenya to address the Swapo rally in Ohangwena is a political tactic, rather than an elevation to the upper echelons of the former liberation struggle movement.
“RDP commanded good support in Ohangwena and you need a strong character to break that support. This is a strategy that will cause a serious dent to RDP in Ohangwena,” Kaumbi told New Era yesterday. “It’s a straight move by President Hage Geingob, which I personally admire.”
Addressing a campaign rally at Ondangwa last week, Hamutenya’s successor at RDP Jeremiah Nambinga accused Geingob of being hell-bent on wiping the RDP off the Namibian political scene, and by so doing, promote the creation of a one-party state.
Kaumbi, however, believes that politics is about weakening one’s opponents in the best way possible. “That’s what politics is about. That’s why parties are called opposition by each other. It’s about weakening your opponents in order for you to dominate. It’s how you play the game.”