Endgame for the 6th Swapo Congress… choosing between progress and decline

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Five days to the 6th Swapo Congress, the political endgame is in sight, signaling that the country is on the cusps of becoming either a great modern genuine social democracy of inclusivity where all citizens continue to enjoy equal rights and opportunities, or a lamentably nondescript backwater of ethnic regression.

Namibians are waiting patiently for the 6th Congress elections to get on with their normal lives. However, the “old normal” may not be the same as the “new normal” should the wrong team emerged victorious. Based on the presentations by both Team Harambee and Team “Swapo”, there is a right team, and a wrong team, of which the winner devoid of the right patriotic mindset and competencies could wrecked irrevocably the lives of 2.3 million Namibians.

A political contest of this severity within the ruling party is bound to produce winners and losers, with repercussions beyond the party, affecting all lives in the country, and therefore it is vital that the aftermath should be well contained.

Indeed, a win by Team “Swapo” harkening for the Cold War days of the socialist ideology medicinal dosage, may usher in a rude awakening “new normal,” of exclusionary politics, same as the far right Afrikaner National Party did to us Africans after the 1948 South African general elections, by introducing “apartheid” (separateness), and the Nazism of Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party’s in the 1930s, to the Jews.

Both ideologies caused seismic destruction of people’s lives, even to this very day in Namibia too. Hence, it matters significantly which Team wins, and what ideology they espoused.

Lately, Cde Ngarikutuke Ernest Tjiriange, a party stalwart, and main proponent of “Team Swapo” dwelt extensively on the need to introduce socialism as the principal ideology of Swapo, and of Namibia. Some are calling for socialism with “Namibian characteristics.” Socialism is perhaps what party veteran Cde Nahas Angula and Co wants to revive, revitalise and restore as the lost ideological focus of Swapo. The notion that the party has no ideology is shockingly disappointing. As per its constitution, Swapo has an eclectic blend of patriotic nationalism and social democracy supported by developmentalism as an economic system. Swapo’s social democracy is more reformist and promotes social justice within the framework of a mixed (capitalist) economy, with a policy regime inclusive of representative democracy, commitment to income redistribution, nationalization of key industries, and regulation of the economy in the population’s general interest and welfare.

Nothing is wrong with Swapo’s current ideology, we should rather interrogate, strengthen and elucidate the emphasis on the theoretical part of social democracy, and upscale its praxis.

However, what Swapo cannot do is to simply mimic socialism, because of nostalgia of socialist grandeur, and a flawed postulation that dogmatism birth true revolutionaries, as such a posture will signify unoriginality at best, and lack of a substantive understanding of the full dynamics and repercussions. In the evolution of embracing or crafting any ideology, we must be considerate that the primary resolution of ideology is to improve peoples’ lives.

And those historical lessons, our placing (strengths and weaknesses) on the continuum of nations, and the Namibian Dream are factored in. Hopefully, the 6th SWAPO Congress will in detail discuss this aspect for the think tank’s investigation and recommendation. Indisputably, the present “Bombard the Swapo headquarters” approach in the form of a perilous campaign of “Team Swapo”, by few party elders Cde Cde Nahas Angula, Cde Jerry Ekandjo, Cde Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Cde Helmut Angula, and Cde Petrina Haingura not only broke every Party custom and tradition as demonstrated, but extensively damaged the Party’s rock-solid reputational image and credibility. “Team SWAPO” is employing a Hegelian dialectic stratagem creating chaos, to create order out of chaos: their order, their party, their Namibia, dangerously exclusivists and divisive. Whereby they engineer imaginary crises, weaknesses, magnify existing problems, and deceptively apportion all wrongdoings on the President’s administration (in which some of them are still serving). The objective is to delegitimize Geingob as the leader; and birth a confidence crisis, to refashion a revisionist and revanchist Swapo Party in their own image.

Furthermore, “Team Swapo” deviously used Chairman Mao Tse-tung’s strategy of labelling the party leadership, as the root cause of all problems, and thus the enemies of the Namibian population. Therefore, the artillery fire of criticism and accusations are targeting the Swapo leadership to level them to the ground.

However, every peace-loving Namibian is cognizant that transparency, accountability, and shared prosperity are all as a result of Dr Geingob’s presidency, buttressing the excellent nation building foundation of a “One Namibia, One Nation” by his predecessors.

Equally, as the Harambee Prosperity Plan and the National Development Plans are directing government to Vision 2030, premised on the 2014 Swapo election manifesto and the Swapo constitution, the claim of a directionless party and government is built on shifting sands. Moreover, since these few elders have been influential government leaders as ministers and even prime minister, they saw no wrong, no elitism, no-corruption, no-mismanagement, and no failures until the day some livid youthful tenderpreneurs made them, what can only be surmised as a “not to be refused, once in a lifetime proposition,” whether win or lose.

Thus, they brusquely discarded their lifetime principles, to repudiate the Swapo and government leadershipship, they co-steered for all their adult life, as a directionless, crisis and corruption-laden sinking ship.
Finally, “Team Swapo” revealed perturbing proclivities towards vengefulness, judging to their uncouth media attack on the Attorney-General (AG), because of his denunciation of their acrimonious activities. While claiming in an advert that the sixth Congress elections will not in any way affect President Geingob’s administration in place until 2019, they issued a veiled threat that the AG “ought to be worried about his place as a non-lawyer after the congress.”

Suggesting, a “Team Swapo” Congress victory will witness the removal of President Geingob and his administration. It seems like a repeat of the witch-hunt politics of hibernators of 2009, where “war” was declared to smoke out Swapo members in government, alleged as RDP hibernators and saboteurs of the Swapo manifesto.

Until, this day, many innocent and bright Swapo members falsely accused and sidelined are suffering because of this misplaced retribution politics, just because their mother tongue is Kwanyama. Are Kwanyamas, Ndongas, San, Afrikaners, Mbandja’s not Namibians, same as all others? A repetition of this backward scourge of tribal retribution should never be allowed.

Admirably, in contradistinction, President Geingob and team, ran a very clean and responsible campaign. No threats, no insults, no appeal to regional or ethnic sentimentalities, and no vilification, or betrayal of the party values. Unlike “Team Swapo”, Team Harambee has produced an excellent campaign promise document not focusing on personalities but on strengthening of inner party democracy.

For instance, institutional and capacity reform of the Swapo headquarters; strengthening of the relationship between Swapo and government; Succession planning and inter-generational pollination; fostering the spirit of camaraderie; clear conflict resolution mechanisms and party discipline; increasing the party membership; financial accountability; efficient utilisation of party resources; clear party school role in leadership development; and party research and development capacity enhancement.

Team Harambee also pledged to foster party unity after the congress and thus no witch-hunting should be feared, as all are Swapo comrades. Based on its progressive party and nation building stance, and clear articulation of challenges and solutions thereof to ensure the Party’s relevance into the future as a custodian of Namibian values, traditions and aspirations, Team Harambee is well-suited for the task to lead the party. They demonstrated excellent political maturity and problem solving skills.

On the other-hand, “Team Swapo” seems not to grasp the real issues at hand, they clamour melancholically for an undefined type of Cold War socialism as a panacea for all problems, and engage in groundless confrontational personal accusations destroying the party’s reputational legitimacy from within.

This team failed to produce any rational campaign documentation, except uttering dangerous, divisive, revanchist, and outlandish accusations against the very party values it is supposed to protect and uphold.

* This commentary is written entirely in my personal capacity as a private citizen.

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