As the Swapo Party celebrated its 57th anniversary over the past week, President Hage Geingob has called on party members to unite and ensure that the party continues to evolve as a people’s movement.
Speaking during the celebration in Otjiwarongo over the weekend, Geingob said nations are living in a time when former liberation movements are under attack from all kinds of enemies, both internal and external.
He said Swapo is a party that is inclusive and welcomes all Namibians. Quoting the Indian sage, Mahatma Gandhi, he said: “For unity to be real it must stand the severest strain without breaking”.
He further said: “We face many challenges, political, social and economic, but no challenge, no pressure, and no strain can wipe away 57 years of milestones, successes and most importantly camaraderie.”
Geingob said this camaraderie is evident in the relationship he shares with his predecessors, former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba. He said that is why they are able to enjoy the continuity of leadership in Swapo.
Particularly, he commended founding president Nujoma for his determination and non-wavering commitment to the cause of national self-determination, which was the catalyst for the struggle against apartheid South African rule.
“Cde Nujoma, through his inclusive and non-tribal approach to leadership had a unifying effect on Swapo. Even during the darkest days of the struggle, Cde Nujoma would be our torchbearer, leading us through the darkness towards the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Geingob said of Nujoma that these are the same leadership qualities that enabled Namibia to adopt the policy of reconciliation following independence, adding that it his predecessors’ inclusiveness and reconciliatory approach that allowed peace to thrive in Namibia.
Similarly, he praised Pohamba, through his leadership as Swapo chief representative to East Africa and then secretary of finance, for displaying great wisdom, fairness and impartiality that served Swapo well during the tumultuous times.
He said these leadership qualities were once again on display during his tenure as president of the Republic of Namibia, as he worked to consolidate the gains made under his predecessors, who ensured stability in Namibia.
“Now, yours truly has taken up the baton to continue this glorious legacy of the Swapo Party by taking Namibia towards an era of prosperity. Through the establishment of the Presidential Council this legacy continues. Our most recent meeting was on Tuesday. I will not divulge what we discussed, but I will say that it was an extremely fruitful engagement and I thank them for always being available to meet with me,” Geingob stated.
This sort of unity is unique to Namibia, he said. “This is the Swapo way. As we move forward, ready to face the challenges that lie ahead, let us not face the challenges as individuals or groups. Let us face them as Swapo, the people’s party, the party you can trust.”
The appalling conditions experienced by black workers in Namibia under the inhumane contract labour system that was administered by the South African regime, served as a catalyst for the emergence of Swapo.
Namibian contract workers in Cape Town, led by Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Andreas Shipanga, Emil Apollus and others, formed the Ovambo People’s Congress (OPC) in 1957. In 1959, OPC was transformed into the Ovamboland People’s Organisation (OPO).
The primary objective of OPO was the total removal of the repressive contract labour system. The second objective was to ensure that Namibia was placed under United Nations trusteeship. This would be the first step towards liberation and ulti ultimately, independence.
On April 19, 1960 OPO became Swapo.