Swapo President and Namibian Head of State Hage Geingob recently said the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement has an agenda to become a political party and compared it to the formation of the former official opposition, Congress of Democrats (CoD).
In 1999, former Swapo diplomat and then deputy minister Ben Ulenga, along with other youthful politicians formed the CoD in opposition to a constitutional amendment which gave founding president Sam Nujoma a third term in office, as well as the Namibian military’s involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo during that country’s civil war.
Speaking at the Central Committee meeting of the Swapo Party Elders Council at the weekend, Geingob gave a stern a warning to Swapo members, who are part of the AR movement, that “it is lonely outside Swapo”.
Geingob said the AR is cajoling under the ruling party’s umbrella and should come out with the truth: it does not have the numbers it claims. He maintains this was evident in the failure of the AR leaders to meet their target of rallying 5 000 people for the June 16 demonstration against the construction of a new parliament building. The protest drew no more than 1 200 people.
AR’s Job Amupanda over the weekend said he narrowly survived “a car burn” and they were “still trying to see what happened and what these people are trying to do. So, I don’t have time to comment on conspiracy theories.”
When he addressed the elders, Geingob indicated that the AR movement started with mobilising landless Namibians to demand residential land then rallied against the proposed new parliament building. He asked what is next.
“That is when you are trying to form a party. Just come out and form your party. Be free and let us meet there,” Geingob advised. “When CoD formed the Forum for the Future I told my colleagues: ‘Mark my words, they are going to form a political party.’ The forum was to bring people to assess whether they will come and you can capture them. They tried and surely [failed] from the Forum to CoD.”
“Now we have a movement, AR. Swapo is a movement too and now a party, but that movement element is still there and you cannot have a movement within a movement. You can a movement within a party.”
He stressed that AR’s Amupanda, George Kambala and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma are gauging and cajoling under the Swapo cadre with the aim of confusing them into thinking that the party leadership approves the AR movement.
“It is very clear – if you look at all the trademarks –to understand what is happening… A petition is a manifesto of the future party. What they call AR movement is their manifesto. Let us not be fooled by that.”
“But be careful, be very careful, do not forget the warning of [Hidipo] Hamutenya, when [Tsudao] Gurirab and others were talking about leaving Swapo. He said it is lonely outside Swapo, but he forgot and followed the same route, but now we are glad he is back. Omake for him.”
Geingob added that with regard to the June 16 march, the party recognised the right of its citizens to raise of national concern and that members of the party can and should raise concerns through the established structures of the party.
“What is also surprising is that the members of the party, who have been asked to come back, are joined by others who are not members of the party, as we could see during the march. There were other party members from opposition parties. From those who were defeated and couldn’t win anything, like [Tsudao] Gurirab.”
Geingob questioned what type of party cadres go outside the structures of the party to organise against the party, without raising the matter internally first.
“How do you mobilise so-called whole of the country? Six months they took to organise this big rally of 5 000 to 10 000 people. What happened? There were about 800 people and when lunch-time came there about 1200,” he said.
“I was monitoring the situation through the assets we have. I know how many buses left. The only buses I know of were four mini-buses with 16 people from Oshana Region. Others I have monitored were individual cars.”
“Of course the press took it and said: ‘It was a very successful march.’ We had an Indian President visiting, but this was not newsworthy. ‘People have spoken,’ they say. But we had elections, where the people spoke and gave Swapo 80%,” president said, adding: “That is democracy. We are now being taught new democracy. If you do not win through the ballot you must use newspapers, you must demonstrate and go the streets and apparently bring down the government.”
Geingob advised those who are not happy with the programme of the party to get out. “Do not stay within the party and destroy it from within. If you do not agree, then resign and go. We expelled you. Now that you are coming back, follow the rules.”
Geingob noted that the party leadership and cadre are not sleeping and would not be fooled by the likes of AR. He then thanked the elders of the party for the unfailing support they have given the Swapo leadership.