In the past week, the ruling party, Swapo, officially launched its party school in Windhoek. It follows in the footsteps of other former liberation movements such as Chama Cha Mapinduzi of Tanzania and Frelimo of Mozambique amongst others.
Arguably, each country is informed by unique reasons for doing so. The rationale, it would appear, is to ensure an inculcation of some values and ideological clarity in followers of a specific political party.
As I recall, the case for party school was made at the 2002 Swapo Party Congress which was held at the University of Namibia. However the discussions for it started prior to 2002. I remember the discussions specifically since 1999 while I was district secretary of Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) for Windhoek West.
Paulus I. Kapia was the secretary of SPYL at the time. Our task at the time in the youth league was to work hard to recapture Windhoek West which was in the hands of the DTA and to push for “economic development and technological revolution” for the youth of Namibia.
Windhoek West was strategic because it was seen as home to all tertiary institutions. When Congress of Democrats (CoD) was founded it was primarily to target the youth vote. This we prevented successfully. Let me right away pay tribute to some fearless and uncompromising youth league members in that campaign such as Lucia Iipumbu, Sofia Kamati, the late Martin Shalli Intamba, Benno Sheehama, Lukas Shuuya, Kalilo Kalilo, the late Swapo Ankama, among others.
It was against the above political atmosphere that I recall the discussions taking place for political education and training of party cadres. To prepare the election manifesto, a team was assembled as per normal practice. The Swapo secretary general was Hifikepunye Pohamba. The team included Andrew Ndishishi, Ben Mulongeni, Andre Hashiyana, among others, and apart from youth development, my task also included to provide administrative support to the team.
The election manifesto was therefore hugely influenced by the foregoing experience and lessons. It was deliberately youth friendly. More than that it depicted the unifying character of President Sam Nujoma as a rallying point. When elections came he won overwhelmingly more votes than the party.
After delivering on the assignment and the successful victory of 1999 the same team was constituted to prepare documentation for the 2002 Swapo Party Congress which was held at the University of Namibia.
The evolution for the party school is therefore traceable to the report of the Central Committee to the Swapo Party Congress in which it provided for the need to train party cadres and set up database of available capacity. The name proposed was the Institute for Political Studies amongst others, before it became Swapo Party School.
The implementation of the party school was given to the party secretary for information and mobilisation, then Hidipo Hamutenya, who travelled on a study tour to Cuba together with Tommy Nambahu. The report was produced but I’m not sure what became of it. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah took over the information and publicity portfolio after Hidipo Hamutenya resigned frpm Swapo Party to form Rally for Democracy and Propress (RDP) together with Jesaya Nyamu and others.
The work on party school continued and was coordinated by Professor Auala. All of us who contributed did so through him. The momentum in the party school was injected during the tenure of Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana as secretary general following the 2007 Swapo Party Congress. Later on, when Jerry Ekandjo took over the portfolio of information and mobilisation secretary, he too advanced the work of the curriculum. After the 2012 Swapo Party Congress, Nangolo Mbumba took over as secretary general and the work continued with Helmut Angula as secretary for information and mobilisation.
To his credit Helmut Angula worked hard. I recall in particular the first workshop on party school, which was held at Henties Bay which mapped the way towards completion. Another workshop was held in Otjiwarongo but I couldn’t attend it. Congratulations to all those who have contributed.
In the final analysis, the party school is to educate members, young and old, about the history and ideology of the party. I would assume that the qualifications offered will, in good time, be accredited with the NQA to be recognised.
Specifically, this education must also include the understanding that the former liberation movements in southern Africa must exist to direct and hold accountable their elected governments not the other way around. This must be done in the national interest and for future generations. In this regard, the young people are the umbilical cord to the future.
Therefore, I say it without fear or favour to former liberation movements in southern African parties including Swapo Party that they must not reduce youth wings to desks or parroting clubs. I repeat what I said in Limpopo at the ANCYL rally in 2012: “The youth are not your enemies and must not be your enemies but they are the revolutionary offspring of the ideals of the party. There is no need for elders to be allergic to the youth but rather allow them space to be active, vigilant and militant in line with the constitution and relevant documents of the party.”