Selma Ikela & Jeremiah Ndjoze
Windhoek-Katuutire Kaura, a one-time arch nemesis of the ruling party Swapo, yesterday officially joined the party he tried to topple from power in three democratic elections.
Nangolo Mbumba, the Swapo secretary-general, hailed the move by saying his job was to attract more people to the former liberation movement, instead of chasing them.
Mbumba formed part of the leaders who expelled four party members in 2015, before a court ordered their reinstatement.
Mbumba made the remark yesterday when he welcomed Kaura, his wife Vicky, their children and over 30 other members to the Swapo fold. President Hage Geingob threw Kaura a lifeline when he appointed him advisor to the late Kunene governor Angelika Muharukua in 2015.
Yesterday Mbumba hit back at critics who criticised Kaura’s admission to the party, questioning their wisdom of closing out the veteran politician.
Kaura took on former Swapo president Sam Nujoma in the 1999 presidential election, attaining 9.8 percent of the vote, while Nujoma scored 77 percent.
In 2004, the former DTA president took on then Swapo candidate Hifikepunye Pohamba. He lost after garnering five percent, compared to Pohamba’s 76 percent.
The two veterans squared off again in the 2009 presidential election, which Pohamba convincingly won by 75 percent. Kaura got three percent of the vote.
Mbumba yesterday cited the openness with which the former leader of the opposition has approached Swapo as a sign of commitment to his new political home.
“He (Kaura) didn’t join at night. He joined at a stadium in Grootfontein in front of the masses, and he is here today. How honest and transparent can you be?” stated Mbumba.
Mbumba and Kaura are long time acquaintances, dating back to their student years in the USA, and the Swapo secretary-general wasted no time in hailing the latter and his wife’s political prowess and fortitude.
Kaura led the former DTA, which recently rebranded to the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), for 15 years. He was a member of the DTA for 40 years but was ousted democratically in 2013, when the youthful McHenry Venaani took over the party’s presidency.
Kaura on Monday told New Era that he joined Swapo because he was left in the open and with no party when Venaani rebranded the DTA. Responding to queries as to why he had finally decided to join the same party that he previously condemned, Kaura maintained that all his previous criticisms were in the spirit of nation building.
“People have forgotten that we all wrote the Namibian Constitution together. That is the document which guides the future of Namibia. What we said has passed and we are now in the Namibian house. The struggle continues unabated,” Kaura stated.
Political analyst Graham Hopwood told New Era yesterday that Kaura’s supposed contribution to the success of Swapo should not be exaggerated. This in light of the fact that Kaura has been out of day-to-day politics for a while now and as a result has lost a great deal of his political relevance.
“He might be useful to the party in the Kunene Region where he was appointed as advisor. But let’s not forget that Swapo already gained control of that region in the last regional elections,” Hopwood said.
He maintained that Kaura’s move is not likely to impact the votes of the now rebranded PDM in any way.
“After his ousting the then DTA went on to increase its number of votes and seats in parliament,” Hopwood said, adding that this move may have been motivated by patronage.
Former political nomad, and now NUDO councillor, Joseph Kauandenge referred to the move as a miscalculated risk on the side of Kaura.
“It is sad for opposition politics [in Namibia] that people like Kaura who we were looking up to, to draw strength and moral convictions from, have left us in such a manner to join the ruling party,” Kauandenge said.