SWAPO at 57: A celebration of the past and a march forward!

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WINDHOEK, 21 May 2011 - SWAPO-Party Youth League Secretary Elijah Ngurare gives the vote of thanks at the closing of the opening session of the Africa-China Young Leaders Forum held at Safari Hotel. The Youth Forum brings together more than 120 youth leaders from 18 African countries and China. (Photo by: Joseph Nekaya) NAMPA

A birthday of an individual is a festivity of that person and his family. However, a birthday of an organisation or a country is a celebration of a wider family in the organisation or country. SWAPO is the people and the people are SWAPO.
It implies an organisation for peasants, teachers, clergies, students, traditional leaders, workers, unemployed, rich, poor, black, white and speakers of every other language who believe in the aims and objectives of it. Therefore, to celebrate this birthday of 57 years requires the participation of everybody in all 14 regions and 121 districts of Namibia. The cattle herder and the domestic worker must have reason to celebrate; the unemployed member of SWAPO Party too must have a reason to celebrate. It must be a celebration for all now and for always.
When SWAPO was founded on or around 19 April 1960 it was shortly after the Old Location massacre of 1959. The history as conveyed to us by those who were there, depicts a people united against colonial oppression. We are told about the role of Chief Hosea Kutako, a nationalist through whom President Sam Nujoma departed into exile. History does not say that he was a SWAPO member and history does not say he was only fighting for his tribe. History tells us that many of his contemporary traditional leaders were nationalists.
It must follow therefore that the rationale for which SWAPO was formed was nationalism and the aspirations of all Namibians united in the ideal for freedom and national independence. History informs us particularly about the initiatives of leaders like Andimba Toivo ya Toivo (OPC), Nujoma, Mzee Kaukaungwa and others (OPO); and others who started petitioning the United Nations.
In other words, the SWAPO generations of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s clearly stood together to fight against oppression especially the inhuman system of apartheid namely the migrant labour system, forced removals, the division of the country into “Bantustans” and its administration along ethnic lines, exclusive white control of natural resources, racial discrimination in the market place, and inferior black education.
The bitter and protracted liberation struggle which lasted 23 years was a manifestation of the above. The aim of the liberation struggle and the sacrifices made were for the total independence of Namibia, which was secured on 21st March 1990. In this regard, SWAPO as a liberation movement has been a custodian of our peoples’ aspirations. It has been the glue around which the ideals of solidarity with the downtrodden, freedom for the oppressed and social justice for the disadvantaged have been nurtured.

Today Namibia has been free for 27 years. It is more years than the liberation struggle. I remember the rallying calls of the 1989 election manifesto; I remember partaking in that first ever democratic elections. The message remained, “We are masters of our destiny.” Twenty-seven years later Namibia has given birth to young people who are 27 years old and below. Statistically, these are the majority with estimations placing them at over 50 percent of the national population. SWAPO Party as a former liberation movement therefore must live and be in tandem with the wishes and aspirations of these new citizens that will be bequeathed with taking the mantle of leadership for Namibia forward.
We all know that the past 27 years have not been a smooth sailing. There were some mountains to climb and there were beautiful valleys to cross especially during the first 15 years of our independence. It took decisive and unifying leadership of the Founding President to navigate the journey towards Vision 2030. There is no secret that in the year 2030 and beyond, it is not the present old stalwarts that would rule SWAPO and Namibia. It is here where the question of our birthday celebration must be focused.
It is also true that most of what has happened was public knowledge – it was like a feature taking place in a soccer stadium and the entire country was sitting in the pavilion to observe the players of governance. Undoubtedly some have executed their national responsibilities honourably and patriotically. It is also true that some have shamed the nation with their greed, corruption, tribalism, racism, nepotism, regionalism etc. These are the flickering lights of deception and betrayal.
Where to from here, is the question. It is a question facing all former liberation movements, not only SWAPO Party. It needs to be answered not with fanfare and half-hearted phrases but genuine reflection of the direction of the SWAPO Party of tomorrow when so many of us reading this message today might have long returned to meet our Maker. The youth and SWAPO Party Pioneers Movement must be united and groomed in the constitutional order of SWAPO Party and its political programme. It is the battle about the ideological soul of the SWAPO Party and its future.

I believe finally, that the way forward lies in the words of one Politburo and Central Committee member, Comrade Marco Hausiku. His sentiments are a twin of things we have said in the past and for which we have been illegally and unconstitutionally expelled. Hopefully this truth which is self-evident as hereunder will not result in his expulsion by his fellow political elders. Comrade Marco Hausiku said recently in Keetmanshoop and I quote as reported by New Era:
“The prevailing culture of cliques, entitlement and poor service delivery in the SWAPO Party must stop … the mindset of greed will only destroy the Party and country when citizens finally revolt … this materialistic mindset of thinking only about positions, money, tenders and bribes must end. We need to change if we are concerned about our country … the future of the SWAPO Party lies in collective leadership and a change of mindset … the Party must return to its former ideals of inclusiveness and tolerance in safeguarding a prosperous future of the country … we need free thinkers who will find better ways of doing things in the country … the Party leaders must appreciate others’ views and allow people to speak their minds openly … clapping hands is not consensus. We need to talk, discuss and come to an understanding of each other’s ideas. This will also help people discover themselves. We need to root out tribalism and factionalism collectively in the interest of unity and nationhood.”

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