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Wounded Swanu divided ahead of polls

2024-02-22  Aletta Shikololo

Wounded Swanu divided ahead of polls

In yet another round of internal discord, Namibia’s oldest political party Swanu continues to be embroiled in squabbles over the legitimacy of its leadership. 

As the party prepares for upcoming elections, divisions within its ranks risk jeopardising its unity and an elusive electoral success. At the heart of this fracas is the
tit-for-tat between the party’s secretary general Sam Tjikuzu and the party’s member of parliament, Tangeni Iijambo.

Tjikuzu labelled Iijambo as a purported member of parliament with ineffective leadership, while Iijambo countered by dismissing Tjikuzu’s claim of being Swanu’s secretary general as unfounded. 

Iijambo urged this publication to disregard Tjikuzu and his associates, asserting they are not legitimate members of Swanu, and have been unlawfully exploiting the party’s name.

In 2021, a group of Swanu members adopted a motion of no confidence in the party’s politburo and central committee, accusing them of not having held meetings for three years. This faction convened for an extraordinary congress to adopt a motion of no confidence in the party’s top brass, ultimately electing Charles Katjivirue as the party’s president.

That same year, another faction led by Iijambo, who was the party’s president at the time, approached the High Court with claims that Katjivirue and his faction had convened a national congress and elected themselves as leaders of the party, contravening Swanu’s constitution. The status report on this matter will be heard in court today.

“His [Iijambo’s] leadership was dysfunctional, and as a result, we held an extraordinary congress where his team was outvoted, but they still persisted,” claimed Tjikuzu.

He added that the party’s constitution states that once an extraordinary congress has been held and new members are elected to the politburo, the previous leadership is required to relinquish their positions, which did not occur. Tjikuzu accuses Iijambo of manoeuvring Evalistus Kaaronda, the other faction’s president, into the position. “He [Ijambo] was saying he was going to retire from parliament and put new blood in his position because he wanted to bring Kaaronda to parliament. Unfortunately for them, Kaaronda was not on the party list, so they sought clarity from the legal fraternity on why Kaaronda would not go to parliament. They were apprehended, because the law stipulates that only those on the party list can go to parliament. After that, Iijambo made a U-turn on his decision to retire,” continued Tjikuzu.

Based on all this, he referred to Iijambo as a ‘so-called’ member of parliament.

In turn, Iijambo accused Tjikuzu of belonging to a bogus group that is attempting to destabilise the party and the country. “Him calling me ‘so-called’ while I am gazetted is ignorant. They don’t belong to Swanu, and we don’t entertain them. We are the Swanu that is recognised by the ECN and have a parliamentarian representing the party,” Iijambo emphasised, delegitimising his opponents.

Iijambo believes that when he and his faction made the party relevant, others suddenly desired to join the team. “The late Rihupisa Kandando, may his soul rest in peace, was a leader for more than 10 years, but didn’t manage to make it to parliament. In fact, six of them were secretaries in my leadership, but were sabotaging from within,” he added. Without mincing his words, he accused them of being a bunch of tribalists, who do not want an Oshiwambo-speaker to lead Swanu.



Meanwhile, Tjikuzu is accusing his opponents of being opportunists who continually switch from one political party to another in search of greener pastures.

“We have individuals who are merely seeking personal gain, hopping from one party to another. When they find dissatisfaction in one place, they move on to the next. Members should be aware of this. I can name many of them; they are attempting to hold the party hostage,” observed Tjikuzu, who said he has been a party member since the age of 17 and is now 49. “I have never left the party, and yet there are members joining who threaten to suspend me. Who are they?”, he questioned.



As the nation gears up for the upcoming elections, the pressing question remains: will the electorate rally behind the beleaguered party?

While this might concern many, Iijambo stated that the party is mobilising. 

“The party has a president, secretary general, a parliamentarian, and a politburo. Additionally, the party boasts 29 to 30 branches, with seven in the north, all thanks to Iijambo’s administration”, he confidently put it out there regarding the party’s position for the upcoming elections.

He, however, expressed concern that the party will lose many of its members due to the divisions. Attempts to unify the party have proven futile.  “Till today, they are refusing. There was a group which called for a meeting in Epukiro to address matters, but rumours have it that other
 people said if any of their members attend this meeting, they would be suspended,” he added.

Political analyst Natji Tjirera advised the party to reunite.  “The united Swanu only had one seat in parliament. If the leadership cares for the party, they will drop the court case and seek unity in one way or another. It is highly irresponsible for people to fight over the soul of a political movement, and in the process destroy it,” he said.

“Swanu’s ideology is one of the best. It can help rescue this nation. Instead of fighting, they must go back to the drawing board, and selflessly relinquish these positions. They should appoint somebody who will garner votes and effectively market the ideology. Currently, they are promoting conflicts, which doesn’t interest the voters”, Tjirera added.

2024-02-22  Aletta Shikololo

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