Given the overwhelming disillusionment and resentment amongst our people, Honourable Usutuaije Maamberua, in his capacity as a SWANU member of parliament, exercising a mandate bestowed upon him by Article 45 of the Namibian Constitution, posed a question to President Hage Geingob during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) address regarding the ideological trajectory that informs government policies.
To this, President Geingob stated that Namibia follows to a large extent a capitalist system. This triggered an opinion piece in New Era last week, in which my brother Moses Pakote launched a virulent attack on the SWANU president.
Namibian history should accommodate intellectual integrity and not pander to intellectual arrogance – moreso where brothers and sisters use their intellectual capabilities to confuse our history and think they enjoy a monopoly on historical facts pertaining to Namibia and Africa.
It is indeed very sad to witness the desolating spectacle of some former leaders of our liberation struggle defecting to a reactionary ideology amid a blaze of publicity, lend respectability to an ideology that has been reduced to the political dustbin and universal abhorrence by progressive-minded humanity.
Yet, there are those who have thrown in their miserable lot with supine followers of that ideological formula for Namibia – a formula which is the root causes of all our problems. We are not surprised by Pakote’s claim, because it represents the tip of the iceberg, and is indicative of the malaise of post-colonial Namibia where hostility and suspicion are rife towards independent-minded thinkers.
It is a historical fact that organisations, such as SWANU and SWAPO, as members of national liberation movement embarked on the liberation struggle to get rid of South Africa from the Namibian soil initially only as patriots and/or nationalists without an internationalist outlook.
However, what is clear as sunlight is the fact that late Fanuel Jariretundu Kozonguizi, the first president of SWANU, was the first Namibian in Conakry, Guinea in 1960 to set the tone for an ideological position at the AAPSO Conference. He was the first Namibian to visit Peking in August 1960, paving the way for the training of SWANU cadres at the Military Academy at Nanking, and the first Namibian to make the Havana Statement at Cuba in January 1966 at the AAPSO Conference and touched on an ideological position that ultimately paved the way and informed SWANU’s ideological position that was formalised in 1974 in SWANU’s Basic Document (“the constitution”).
Whatever the reasons and considerations, SWAPO of Namibia concretised its ideological position only in 1976.
It must also be stated that the initial encounter of Namibia with China and Cuba was through late Advocate Kozonguizi and his SWANU, Afro-Asian People Solidarity Organisation (AAPSO), contrary to the much publicised theses, history papers, opinion pieces on the genesis of the liberation struggle and research papers that are mushrooming on the Namibian streets and which are nothing more than lies, fabrications and distortions of historical facts that in the final analysis will not be sustained.
We submit the question asked by Hon Maamberua and Pakote must be seen in that historical context and must not be construed as sins. The debate on the ideology that informs policy formulation is long overdue if due regard is given to the request of the SWAPO Party Youth League to have it on the agenda of the last SWAPO Policy Conference, but was not entertained.
Based on what we know, Moses Pakote’s assertion that SWAPO did not have an ideology must be rejected, unless SWAPO recants its 1976 pronouncement. SWANU and SWAPO must answer the question: What happened to the 1974 and 1976 ideological pronouncements?
Based on our relevant foreign experience, we are also cognisant of the historical fact that during the Chinese struggle against Japanese imperialism, Chiang Kai-shek of the Kuomintang fought side by side with Mao Tse Tung of the Communist Party of China, because of their dislike of Japanese occupation of China, despite their ideological differences. This explains why we have Taiwan today and this may also be the reason why in Namibia we have people who were only nationalists (patriots) with no ideological persuasion, and hence have now embarked on a crusade of sterile repudiation and denunciation of the ideology of the national liberation movement.
The claim that the Cold War is over and therefore there is no basis for ideological differentiation is unacceptable. What is over are the days of state bureaucratic ideologists.
There is zero understanding on the operation and rationale for the existence of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). NAM represents co-existence and co-habitation that was an issue in 1968 at Nicosia, Cyprus during AAPSO Conference, which on grounds of principle was rejected and caused the split in the Sino-Soviet Block.
SWANU and other groups aligned to the Chinese left and since then AAPSO became dysfunctional although relocated to Cairo. Mr Charles Kauraisa, then Secretary of Foreign Affairs, is still alive and was personally there. Go and chat with him, or alternatively revisit that part of history.
Yes, it will be highly irresponsible and dishonest if it were not disclosed that at a facilitation of Comrade Dr Sam Nujoma and SWAPO that SWANU indeed participated in the deliberations of the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in March 1985 in New Dehli, represented by Comrade Kuzeeko Kangueehi, then SWANU president. The rationale thereof is a matter of debate for another day.
The assertion by brother Pakote that the raison d’être of SWANU – according to its pronouncements – is to effect a socialist society is correct in so far as its ultimate objective was but the immediate goal was the total and unconditional liberation of Namibia from South African racist regime.
I doubt whether his assertion that “SWAPO was a vanguard of Namibians from all political and cultural persuasions united for the single goal of achieving Namibia’s independence“ is a true reflection of facts and answers its ideological position, which is the issue of the debate.
This is a matter for SWAPO to refute or confirm. If it is confirmed to be true, then SWAPO was a party with nationalists and/or patriots, which had no ideological persuasion and did not know what to do with independent Namibia, hence it is of no coincidence that Namibia finds itself in this predicament.
Brother Pakote, an ideologically conscious community cannot rely on principles of state policy as a basis of defence when asked about the ideological trajectory. Assuming you are correct, why is the pendulum always tilting in the direction of private ownership – Article 98(2)(b) – and not in favour of public ownership – Article 98(2)(a) – if we are cognizant of the fact that our colonisers did not travel the width and breadth of the continent to come and oppress us, because they are white and we happen to be black but the reason for their coming was economic interest?
The ‘anthem’ that Namibia follows a capitalist system and that it must be accepted as such is a shock, for which a therapy is needed, more so when we face homelessness and social evils, such as landlessness, abject poverty, etc. This is definitely not an antidote to the legacy of apartheid colonialism and posterity will judge us harshly for accepting it.
* Uvatera Kahorere is SWANU’s secretary of organisation.