The 766 Swapo congress delegates, by handing a historic two-thirds majority victory to President H.G. Geingob and his slate, which removed all top seven rival contenders from the central committee and the politburo, have spoken as one. They unequivocally upheld the sacrosanctity of “One Namibia, One Nation” as the chief cornerstone principle of the Namibian house.
The rejection of the “Two Centres of Power” concept should not be misconstrued both by its proponents and opponents, as the rejection of the personalities of the party veterans in the former ‘Team Swapo’. On the contrary, their invaluable contributions to Namibia’s decolonisation are forever etched in the annals of Namibian history.
For their heroic contributions, the Namibian generations, present and future remain profoundly indebted in gratitude to Party veterans, such as Cdes Nahas Angula, Jerry Ekandjo, Petrus Iilonga, Helmut Angula, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Ben Amadhila, and many others.
What was rejected absolutely is the substance, methodology and strategies of their campaign message, which the delegates found divisive, personal, confrontational and disturbingly harmful to the party and national unity.
The former Team Swapo conveyed an incoherent message, complemented by a one-sided top four line-up and wrong campaign strategies, which unfortunately projected a public image of tribal supremacy, which did not sit well in Namibia’s post-apartheid socio-political-Christianity set-up.
Additionally, the former Team Swapo campaign strategy seemingly did not consider the obvious arithmetic’s of Congress delegates. Regions are deliberately so structured to compel prospective hopefuls to have broad-based regional, as opposed to single constituency support; because, even with the solid backing of the most populous four O-regions and Kavango East and West regions, minus the other eight political regions, victory would be elusive.
As a result, since former Team Swapo was outwitted in these six regions, and had little support in the rest, it never stood a chance.
Team Swapo also fell in the entitlement trap, just like many party cadres who easily forget SWAPO’s original objective and confused it with all sorts of things it never was meant to be, such as been a promoter of one or the other archaic ideology or group interests.
As, the second president of Namibia, Cde Hifikepunye Pohamba poignantly reminded the delegates, Swapo’s original mandate was to achieve a free and independent Namibia, and to forge it into a new united and democratic nation.
After this was achieved, the party shifted prominence to the struggle for economic freedom. This new struggle needs young-blood with new and relevant ideas, strategies and competencies than needed for the liberation struggle, to wage a successful campaign.
Accordingly, the 6th Congress outcomes for the central committee with a substantial portion of new and young cadres clearly signaled a seismic generational shift in this direction, from the old guards to the youth and women. These will form the nucleus of the 21st Century Swapo Party to conclude the economic struggle.
The victorious former Team Harambee, which cogently articulated its message in line with Swapo ethos, was handsomely rewarded by the congress delegates. Their victory is a telling sign of the enormous confidence of the party membership in President Geingob’s leadership and his slate to steer the party and country to the promised land of shared prosperity.
His work is well cut out as to deliver, deliver, and deliver on the huge expectations of the nation as per the 2014 Swapo Election Manifesto.
Nonetheless, the real intent of the historic landslide Swapo congress victory is for President Geingob to be sufficiently empowered, just as his predecessors were, to govern as a sovereign in addressing national challenges facing the party and the country, without fear or constraint.
The additional party powers, have now vested President Geingob’s administration with a heavy responsibility to act decisively to resolve many outstanding national problems such as unemployment, poverty, slow economic growth, increasing crime levels, increasing drug trade and usage in the country, insufficient housing, the land question and so forth.
Yet, to register noticeable economic and social progress in the remaining two years of the President’s first term, the new Swapo leadership is required at the government level to change gears, and accelerate public service performance through bold innovative projects and balancing of political and technocratic leadership in strategic sectors.
There is also a need to review, identify, and remedy bureaucratic bottlenecks, which are stifling progressive decision-making, and service delivery. Economically, to overcome the present depressed conditions, more than austerity financial measures; massive foreign investments and capital inflows are direly essential, without which the economy cannot move out of the doldrums.
But to draw such investment flows, the country has to fast rid itself from the self-delusionary populist choruses of we do not need foreign investments (for if that was true, thousands of white and black Namibians would by now have setup their 100 percent owned uranium mines, huge industrial factories, agricultural goods exporting farms, etc.
We are undeniably in an economic and financial fix, and need just like other countries in similar situations, quick outside help as per our economic reconstruction plan).
At the party level, as per the President’s campaign message, Swapo ought to rapidly develop internal systems capacity required for the 2nd struggle of economic freedom, and correspondingly overhaul its administration, to become a 21st century progressive, responsive and relevant political party.
Moreover, as the revolutionary Deng Xiaoping, the People’s Republic of China’s premier reformer, and the father of modern China (chief architect of socialism with Chinese Characteristics) after 1978 retired en-masse the old cadres of the Communist Party of China, steeped in the old Maoist ideology and incapable of embracing the sweeping systemic changes needed through the Open Door Policy to modernise China, veteran Swapo cadres too need to be retired. They have contributed commendably to the liberation struggle, but are unable to understand or direct the reinvention and revitalisation processes mandatory for Swapo to continue as Namibia’s 21st century vanguard party.
* This commentary is written entirely in my personal capacity as a private citizen.