Swapo at 57: You’re a man now, boy!

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The rise of Swapo in the 1960s as a liberation movement to oppose racially-motivated segregation is probably the most decorated episode of its 57 years of existence.
The foundation laid during that decade was strong enough to carry liberation activities in consequent years, eventually leading to national independence in 1990.
Key to this was the existence of a common hunger to free the motherland, particularly among young people who did not care what tribe or part of the country they hailed from.
That group of men and women simply loved Namibia. They did not love Namibia for its tenders, fishing quotas or EPLs. They shared a common national goal to restore the dignity of all of us – black, white or khaki.
Many were tortured, humiliated and sentenced to hard labour in slave-like prison conditions. The facilities resembled Nazi concentration camps, yet in time the party and the people overcame these obstacles.
Today many challenges continue to hover over our heads; some of them orchestrated by us. True, the legacy of colonialism is almost indelible. It cannot be wished away just like that. It is deep-rooted and may require decades of digging to uproot it entirely.
But power is now in our hands. Sometimes the power seems too much and we don’t know how to use it. The senior leaders of Swapo seem to still possess the desire and original ideals of the party. It’s the new entrants who seemed to lose the plot.
The hunger for positions, power and influence has reached disturbing proportions. The Swapo of 57 years ago was never about any of that. It was about ideals, political direction and principle. That’s why it was easy for its members and leaders at the time to see where they were headed.
They could smell the future and had a rough sketch of how this country would be. Irrefutably, we are the nation we are today because of Swapo. The party has worked around the clock for that recognition – so, both friend and foe ought to take their hats off for the ruling party.
Swapo has a duty though to protect its legacy and history. Any shortcomings in the party today come from within. While it is true that there are external enemies of Swapo, including perhaps clandestine machinations by some foreign powers, the bulk of the problems emanate from within.
The party cannot allow itself to be captured drivers of a bourgeois nationalist agenda, where the deep-seated aspirations of the masses are leapfrogged by the parochial self-interest of a few.
While we reject the notion by some that things have gotten worse in Namibia after Swapo took over the reins of leadership, we agree that the gulf between the wealthy elite and those at the lower end of the economic spectrum has widened and those close to political power have become wealthier overnight, without proof of their sweat.
That Namibia was until recently, or probably still is, the most unequal country on Earth is both shocking and tragic, especially considering the vast natural wealth of the country and the fact that it is under the rule of a party that once leaned heavily towards socialism and egalitarianism.
We hope President Hage Geingob’s continues to focus on narrowing the gap between the haves and have-nots and that his many poverty eradication interventions prove effective in this regard.

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