The central committee is to Swapo what the National Assembly is to Namibia, Swapo stalwart Helmut Angula has asserted.
Being the highest decision-making body between congresses, the 87-member CC directly influences key government decisions and policy direction, including the distribution of public resources, Angula expounded, justifying why Swapo’s young turks deserve a seat at the high
table. “In government, you have the National Assembly, that will be equivalent to the central committee, while the political bureau is your Cabinet,” he postulated.
Angula’s comments come as the ruling party enters the last eight campaign weeks before it heads to another decisive elective congress to elect its leadership for the next five years.
“Between congresses, what is ruling and managing the party is the central committee. And within the central committee, it elects its executive [politburo], which steers the day-to-day management of party affairs, supported by the secretariat,” he added.
Diametrically opposed to him is another ruling party veteran and erstwhile secretary general, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, who said the CC no longer commands respect.
According to her, the CC is not what “it used to be”.
“The central committee used to be a very, very, very important structure of the party. I am comparing where we are coming from to where we are today,” the former cabinet minister said.
The CC, she said, was not for every Tom, Dick and Harry.
“You needed to have a serious responsibility in order to be considered. You could not even dream of being a member. You needed credentials that spoke for themselves to an extent that you cannot be ignored,” she observed.
Today’s CC is seen as a stepping stone to stardom or access to the country’s riches, she charged.
“I am worried about the way we are storming into this body. It leaves much to be desired. Some people see it as a way to ulterior motives,” she lamented.
In the run-up, the hysteria and campaigns among youthful Swapo members to be elected to the CC have gone into overdrive.
Angula, however, is not surprised.
“They are the future. They are guaranteed because of the structures. People make noise about under-representation because they don’t want to acquaint themselves with the structures of the party. At every level of the structures, there must be a youth, whether at section, branch, district or regional level,” he said.
Only the Swapo Party Elders Council is without young people as the cut-off age is 50 or older. The interest is unprecedented in a country where young people are generally accused of being allergic to politics. He went further, saying the onus is on young people to make their voices heard at congress, as they make up 50% of the 777 delegates.
“It is really up to the youth and how they mobilise and lobby themselves to vote for their own candidate, and to make sure that they lobby the other structures to vote the youth into the CC,” he continued.
Members of the CC are elected via secret ballot at each congress for a five-year term.
All Swapo wings or affiliated bodies are represented in the CC, while the party leader is allowed to appoint six members to the structure.
Meanwhile, party veterans such as Founding President Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba are permanent CC members, albeit without voting powers.
Angula hung up his political gloves.
“The time has come to retire. But it doesn’t mean that I am not in touch with the members of the CC or the delegates. Issues of the party are close to our hearts. We don’t want things to go the wrong way. We need stability for the sake of the development of our country,” he stated.
This paper reached out to several young Swapo members, who have made their CC membership a supreme preoccupation.
Chiefly, New Era caught up with outspoken Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) CC member Willem Amutenya, who finds immeasurable value in the top structure. He echoed Angula’s sentiments.
“This very important body is mandated to review the implementation of congress resolutions, which basically become part of our government policies and programmes,” Amutenya asserted.
In the face of evolving political dynamics and socio-economic challenges confronting Namibians, being part of the Swapo CC cannot be overemphasised, he continued.
“We need an inclusive but equitable CC with the capacity and expertise to determine the concrete political stance of our Swapo in order to maintain its relevance in this new era. Looking at our age demographic and the active involvement of Namibian youth in politics, the upcoming congress should give birth to a youthful but proficient, skilful and competent leadership, including its central committee,” he said.
Current CC member and deputy international relations minister Jenelly Matundu is fighting tooth and nail to retain her seat to continue amplifying youth issues. “Being a member of the Swapo CC has given me an opportunity to share issues affecting the youth, women and girls with the leadership of the party. This is the platform where you can have an opportunity to engage directly with the leadership,” she said.
Nicknamed ‘Comrade NSFAF’ for his encounters with the students funding body, Hofni Iipinge is another SPYL candidate to the motherbody’s CC.
He said CC members have a constitutional obligation to advocate for the party’s congress resolutions to be integrated in the government policies for implementation.
“This makes it easy, as ministers who are CC members would implement the Swapo manifesto as it was planned by the congress. Swapo CC members are the rightful people to push the agenda of service delivery for our people,” Iipinge said. -firstname.lastname@example.org