Is Swapo Party eating itself?

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The independence we enjoy today was not brought on a silver platter, but on a bloody plate of those who knew how to achieve national independence through sacrifice. Therefore, the Swapo Party of Namibia, or at least some individual rudiments in it, are not the alpha and omega of political currents in the country – it is made of us members.

We are Swapo and we say anything permissible under the supreme Constitution, which was drafted under the supervision of President Geingob in 1989 after all historical events before.
The suspension and subsequent expulsion of four SPYL members was at first reminiscent of a culture which showed some unwarranted criticisms of social contract theory, based on political legitimacy and authority on convention, and on some insistence on subordinating reason to personal passions and all seem to go against a contract-based, individualistic and rationalist understanding of the enlightenment – conceived as a period of reform, not of conservative adherence to established political and other traditions of the Namibian nation.

I do not want to sound cynical but to pass some rational comment. The High Court judgment was clearly in favour of the four youth leaders. Judge Parker clearly stated that the decision by the party to deprive the four youth leaders of their membership of the party was unlawful and null and void, and thus was accordingly set aside.

The High Court further made it clear that our respectable revolutionary Swapo Party must, with immediate effect, restore each applicant’s membership of itself. This is a court order, which, if not respected, means our mighty party can be held to be in contempt of court.

The above position in the view of the High Court was based on the premise that the decision to suspend and later expel the four youth leaders was not based on any acceptable administrative rationality. The Swapo Party made a mistake in suspending and expelling the leader of the youth league together with the other three members.

In consequence the Party and other joined respondents were ordered to pay 60 percent of the four’s youth leaders’ costs of the application, one paying, the other to be absolved, including costs of one instructing counsel and one instructed counsel. This order as to the costs is a common practice in legal parlance, where one party loses a case and it is clear that the losing party is the one that erred.

The Swapo Party later issued a statement saying that they did not intend to appeal the judgment. They accepted their mistake in expelling the youth leaders and thus promised to fully comply with the full judgment. Surprisingly, to date these four prominent comrades have not been reinstated “officially”, as per the High Court judgment.

Let me reiterate the core point here. The High Court gave the reinstatement date in clear terms, saying: “The 1st respondent must, with immediate effect, restore each applicant’s membership of 1st respondent.” Up to now no such restoration has happened, or I am not aware.

Indeed, the court set aside expulsion of applicants and the court did not refuse to reinstate them in their positions they held in the Party before their expulsion, unless on the basis that it would be unreasonable and inequitable to make such order.

It is clear that the court restored them into the positions, which the four youth leaders held as members of the SPYL, because such a court order decision might bring into the principles of administrative law where a court cannot substitute its decision for that of a functionary, like the appropriate structures of the party. The question however is why the party is not restoring them?

Without going into detail of the ongoing and the background noises, it is worth saying that the denial of the reinstatement of the four SPYL members shows a denial of reason and any power for comparing and evaluating political affairs as better or worse, leading those opposed to reinstatement to prefer the status quo, which was and maybe still is compatible with their own private comforts.

The youth out there want their leaders back into the party. They especially want their expelled leaders to be reinstated into their leadership positions. These youths are connected by a ‘shared sensitivity’ and self-reflective view of the drastic historical changes within the ongoing unfolding of enlightened civilisation and Namibian political currents in the global milieu.

The revolutionary party cannot continue to eat itself up. That is not characteristic of us, especially the progressive youth of the millennia. The youth of today cannot accept unjustified political dogma and chimerical utopias backed by oligarchical tendencies. The lack of positive action by the party shows some political attitude attuned with the imperfectability of human rumination, which needs to be corrected.

* Tuyeni Konica Kandume is a lawyer by training.

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