Oshakati-A group of seven candidates competing for positions at the Swapo elective congress later this month that refers to itself as ‘Team Swapo’ has accused those in charge of the party of being the cause of economic instability, rising youth unemployment and self-enrichment by the elite.
They also accused their rivals in ‘Team Hage’ of giving job opportunities to foreigners at the expense of Namibians. The contenders made the accusations during a rally at Oshakati Independence Stadium on Saturday, where the so-called Team Swapo’s candidates claimed that the current leadership has destroyed the party and looted the country.
Unveiling their campaign theme as ‘Revise, Restore and Revitalise’, Petrina Haingura, a contender for the party’s deputy secretary-general’s position, said Swapo is now in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). “As we are now Swapo is in ICU, we need to work hard to remove it from this ICU,” said Haingura, a former deputy minister of health.
Haingura’s rivals for the deputy secretary-general’s position are business tycoon Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, also a member of ‘Team Swapo’, and former deputy prime minister Marco Hausiku, who is President Hage Geingob’s preferred candidate for the position.
The event was attended by several congress delegates from the four northern regions: Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto.
Youth and Sports Minister Jerry Ekandjo, who is running for the position of party president against Geingob and former prime minister Nahas Angula, said Swapo is weak and needs cadre like himself to rescue government from its economic slumber.
“We will go nowhere if Swapo is weak. I am ready to water the roots of the dry tree, so that the only Swapo can be strong again,” said Ekandjo, who compared the ruling party to a neglected tree that has not been watered.
Angula had no kind words for the current Swapo leadership either.
He said the party had been dragged into a mess, saying under the current leadership youth leaders were expelled without due process, while workers were prevented from being represented at the upcoming party congress.
The former prime minister said that the country was drowning in debt and as such requires a leadership that will stop borrowing endlessly and capitalise on its forces of production. “We cannot allow the party to be misused by greedy elites. We must revitalise and rejuvenate Swapo in order to revive the economy,” he said.
Angula also took a jibe at current Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba for the “aafyoona nye (you peasants)” remarks he made two years ago, saying they were indicative of the current leadership’s elitist outlook.
Angula further said he was not in a bid to topple anyone from the Swapo presidency, as the position is currently vacant.
Swapo vice-presidential candidate Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana rejected claims that Team Swapo, as her camp calls itself, was a tribal project aiming to make Swapo an Owambo party. She accused those making such allegations of being tribalist themselves, saying all candidates were duly nominated by the central committee, where all members could nominate people of their choice.
“The person who is a tribalist is actually him (Geingob). Why was he thinking of tribes as he was putting his slate together for him to have the argument that others are tribalists?” the home affairs minister asked.
She said her team was not composed of rebels, but party members participating in a democratic process to be elected at congress.
Swapo regional coordinator for Oshikoto Armas Amukwiyu, a candidate for the secretary-general claimed that position was currently being used to fight rank-and-file members, in an apparent shot aimed at Mbumba.
“The office of the SG will never be used to violate the Swapo Party constitution and it will never be used as a tool to fight people, but it will be an office to advocate for eradicating poverty, unemployment, homelessness, ignorance and landlessness,” Amukwiyu said.
Namundjebo-Tilahun pleaded with her camp’s sympathisers to reject bribes offered to them. She also bemoaned the fact that several local firms had lost revenue due to non-payment or late payment by the government.