Amupanda: This is not a Job-centric revolution

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Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) central committee member Job Amupanda explains his current land activism and his suspension from Swapo. He also tells Toivo Ndjebela about why he resigned from his position as spokesperson of the youth league, among other subjects he touched on.

Tell us about the campaign you are leading about land distribution.
It is not something major or dramatic. It is a campaign to drive home basic principles and issues surrounding land – access of land by the youth, uncontrolled or unregulated prices of rent and how the question of land dehumanises and erodes the dignity of the landless youth. It is a campaign to have the land issue addressed once and for all.

What prompted you to take on this challenge?
The land issue is being treated with kid gloves. People are zigzagging on the land question without clearly giving direction. Land is being sold to Italians and Russians while Namibians are landless. Scandals of land are a daily occurrence with no one willing to stand up against this serious issue; the issue of the master means of production, land. Some things happening now would not have happened if people just implemented the resolutions of the 2012 Swapo Party Policy Conference regarding land. The party is very clear on urban land, the failure of willing buyer willing seller, absentee landlords, sale of land to foreigners and all these things. The Party stands for solidarity, freedom and justice. The party has solutions but there has been unwillingness and zigzagging. Some youth are saying that some minister and MPs own properties were our youth are renting – so addressing the land question would mean getting out of business by losing customers. This situation cannot continue because as matters stand the only land the youth will own is their graves. It is shameful for me to call myself a youth leader yet sit idle in boardrooms eating biscuits and drinking coffee while our youth are being made slaves in their own country. I was told of a sad and painful story yesterday. A deceased youth got work in Windhoek and got himself a flat to stay. A year after staying in that flat, he got married. His wife relocated to Windhoek with their two kids. He enrolled the kids at a school in Windhoek. Sadly, he passed on in a car accident. After hearing the news, the landlord came to the flat the following day and told the unemployed widow, during her lowest moment, that she must leave the flat. Such is what has become of our society. The dignity of our people has vanished. Sometimes when people try to make this about me I start asking myself as to where do fellow citizens stay and with whom do they interact.

What do you intend to achieve with this campaign?
Simple.. to have the land issue solved once and for all! As I said elsewhere I am sacrificing if that is what it takes for us to have the youth taken seriously and have the land issue addressed. Our leaders think that our youth can just accept anything. It has actually being postulated that we are a useless generation of cowards. They think that we are all about alcohol, sex and entertainment. We want to show freedom fighters, those we of course respect and salute, that in as much as we can salute and praise them, we can actually tell them when they are unfair, unjust and wrong. We do so with due regard of the role they played as a generation yet with a firm conviction that no generation must oppress the other and that each must define its mission. It is in the interest of our country that this issue is solved. Zigzagging and sweeping the issue under the carpet is actually to breed instability.

How would you describe the public’s response to this campaign thus far?
As you know, I am not the one who impregnated the woman, the woman was already pregnant. Mine was to play the role of a midwife in this process of antenatal and subsequently delivery. So the public view is not necessarily linked to me, in my view. It’s just that the issue is now up for engagement and hopefully for solution. So the woman was already pregnant.

How would you describe Swapo’s and government’s response to your action?
It was very surprising and shocking. I thought the leaders would say point taken and this is the solution and direction to be followed. I thought after the meeting we held with the secretary-general [of Swapo Nangolo Mbumba] we understood each other and the issues but it would appear not. The meeting may have been just for the sake of it. I also think that the top leaders are deliberately being misinformed by those with known agendas. One day, when I get access to these leaders, like the ‘special political youth’, I will help them understand what is happening on the ground. One elder came to whisper to me that the fear is apparently that I will take-over from Comrade Dr. Ngurare [SPYL secretary] and radicalise the youth and threaten the capitalist status quo. When this was explained to me, I understood why the selective molarity and the need to quarantine and liquidate me.

It is speculated that your position in the youth league is being threatened by your activism on land. How do you respond to that?
It doesn’t surprise me at all. I knew they will come after us, one by one. They are just waiting for things to settle after next week’s elections. That objective has always been there. They will still come after all my colleagues that are in the NEC except the dancing two. The position I held was not a job, it was a volunteer’s task. I never got paid for the work I did but was because of the love of the movement. Sometimes my work at the university is affected such as marking assignments for students on time just because of the volunteering work I did for my league and party. These are not luxurious positions as some may think. It was actually limiting but we did it because of our commitment to solidarity, freedom and justice which are the principles underpinning the movement.
There’s also talk that this is a Job Amupanda campaign that is really not aimed at helping society in a broader perspective. Please respond to this.
There have been many Job Amupanda campaigns. Campaigns I waged successfully. I mobilised more than 2000 books for Uukule Senior Secondary School library and raised funds for students at UNAM for them to write exams. There will also be more Job Amupanda campaigns now that I have more time. If this issue, land issue, is a Job Amupanda campaign then our capital city’s name is Kigali.

Why did you resign from the national executive committee of the SPYL?
It was a rejection of attempts to reduce me into a jacket, a silent zombie whose preoccupation is clapping hands and singing songs. The SPYL constitution says we are an active, militant and revolutionary transmitting belt of the party policies and programs. I have allowed many things to pass but I was not prepared to have the land issue pass. So I said if I can always be cornered and silenced because of my activism on important issues such as land, just because I have a NEC position then the NEC position can wait.

How would you carry out the mandate entrusted onto you by the last SPYL congress when not serving on the executive committee?
I will still be a member of the Central Committee and will participate in its meetings. I also stand ready for tasks assigned to me, as I had always done, except for now that I am suspended from all party activities.

How do you respond to calls that Swapo must discipline you because of your activism around land?
The party can do all it wants to me, my hope is just that as it does so, it also address the land issue once and for all. The party is not so hostile as it is made to look. There may be some people but I think the majority of our people really want the land issue resolved and are little concerned with Shipululo.

With all these developments, how does your political future look like?
I don’t have ambitions of climbing the ladder if there is nothing that we can do for our people. I am interested more on meeting the needs of people at the point of need. Now that I will have enough time, I will intensify my activism and take it to rural areas and villages. I will be lobbying for resources for organised youth and assisting those in need. I will also be focusing more on my international duties and institutions, which I have been turning down for a long time now.