• September 27th, 2020

Opinion: Stealing the presidency to destroy the nation

Brian Xamseb

Never since the watershed independence elections in 1989, won by Swapo conclusively, have Namibians face a similar serious tribal threat, as with the oncoming November 27 elections.  

Namibia’s founding pre-independence generation from all walks of life patriotically chose in 1989, to reject the tribal Bantustan concept and third-rate citizenship, which the South African minority apartheid government was offering.

However, having suffered for over 107 under German and South African colonialism, the majority of sober-minded and patriotic Namibians did not hesitate to vote Swapo (57.33 percent) and for its vision of a One Namibia, One Nation, liberty, equality, justice, freedom and development. 

It is within this context that Swapo came to be considered as the rightful heirs of the “Namibian independence fire” started by the Witboois, Mahareros, Goresebs, Simbwayes, and others from all over Namibia during different formation stages of Namibia’s nation building. 

As such the mantle of post-independence leadership fell on Swapo, which was bestowed the historical mandate of forging among all Namibians the spirit and letter of a One Nation, One Namibia ideology; a united, stable, prosperous and peaceful Namibia to which all the people belong as equal citizens, with equal rights, having equal access to all opportunities in the private sphere, economic and public sectors. And most importantly, a Namibia in which every person is free from the yoke of apartheid and its twin brother, named tribalism.

The mandate given since 1989 to the Swapo Party and its president was never to promote a project of “jobs for comrades”, or to label fellow Namibians as hibernators, and propagating a skewed ahistorical understanding of the Namibian national character.

During the era of Namibia’s liberation struggle, particularly in the internal Swapo wing which consisted of the party apparatus, the churches (Council of Churches), workers (NUNW) and students (NANSO), a truly camaraderie atmosphere, and logic that we are first Namibians before the tribe, and are all, under oppression, yet equally fighting as comrades for the objective of our total liberation from apartheid colonial domination reigned supreme throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. This unfeigned and genuine camaraderie was Swapo’s main quality that made it outstandingly different with unquestionable nationalist credentials from all other Parties in Namibia. Swapo’s unity of purpose was accompanied by a remarkable revolutionary fervor grounded in solid patriotism and solidarity that was totally devoid of any sentiments of toxic tribal affinity and superiority.

However, following independence on March 21, 1990, the signs of tribal interests based politics started to emerge as early as in 1992 when some Comrades started to mobilize against the candidature of the then Prime Minister, Dr Hage Geingob, for the post of the Vice President of Swapo. In 1992, Dr Geingob, was already the anointed heir of Dr Nujoma, to continue with the Swapo Party vision of a strong, united, peaceful and prosperous Namibia. The reason being that Dr Geingob was deeply held in high esteem as a leading thinker, innovator and very courageous Swapo member of longstanding, with an immaculate track record of delivery on assignments and thus the ideal candidate to continue the Swapo legacy of nation building.  However, some comrades led by a politically very strong and scheming group successfully lobbied against it, and had their candidate the late Hendrik Witbooi ascended to the VP vacancy.

Afterward, it descended into a deliberate campaign of disinformation and character assassination by the same group, until he was relieved in 2002 of his prime ministerial duties, and went on to serve as the chief executive of the Global Coalition for Africa (Washington DC, 2003-2004. Shortly afterwards his long time friend and at times political rival, the equally astute and competent late Hidipo Hamutenya just four days before the 2004 Swapo extra-ordinary congress to choose the party’s presidential candidate and vice president was dismissed from his ministerial post. This led to HH’s exodus with a majority Kwanyama-speaking group to establish the ill-fated Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) that was dethroned by the DTA in 2014, as the official opposition. As per his own coinage, the founder of RDP, returned to his rightful home the Swapo Party on 28 August 2015, and was warmly received at State House by his old friend Dr Geingob, who upon death accorded him a hero’s funeral.

This narration of the walk out from Swapo by veteran members to establish the RDP proves that a wrong understanding of Swapo as meant for a specific tribe and not the entire Namibia will always result in uncalled for self-inflicted harm to such a group. The graduation of Owambo People’s Organization, OPO (1959) to the South West Africa People’s Organization, Swapo (1960) is the reason why Swapo members should never try to hijack its nationalist cause for tribal interests, and is instructive in view of the similar tribal trend that emerged since 2012 and has now culminated in the independent candidate Itula and his hordes of youth supporters who claim Swapo membership affiliation, while challenging its values and norms.

Seeds of bitterness 
At the 2007 Swapo Congress, where President Geingob became the vice president of Swapo, cde Jerry Ekandjo, who was arguably the most popular Swapo cadre at that point (395 highest votes in the 2002 Swapo congress), wanted to compete against him. However, some claimed that he was instructed by the Founding President to stand down, and did likewise. In 2012, cde Ekandjo decided not to withdraw but pit his popularity against that of Dr Geingob. Similarly, Dr Geingob’s erstwhile good friend and protégé cde Pendukeni Ithana also in a moment of bad decision-making threw down the gauntlet to her political mentor for the VP position and to become the Presidential Candidate of the Swapo Party for the 2014 National Elections. At the time, Dr Elijah Ngurare, the former SPYL secretary who first supported Dr Geingob in 2007 under the rubric of “guided democracy” now shifted allegiance to his two opponents. He was aided in the process by a very over-eager political green horn in the form of the SPYL secretary for information, young cde Job Amupanda, who beforehand started to address cde Ekandjo as “the President” and also made outrageous statements of assassination attempts. With the backing of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Dr Geingob proved too lethal at the fifth Swapo congress on 29 November- 2 December 2019. The Pohamba-Geingob slate witnessed Geingob (312 votes) prevailing against cde Ekandjo (220) and cde Ithana (64). 

Omusati connection reloaded 
At this juncture, the former SPYL opponents of President Geingob were now joined by a group of funders infamously known as “The Masalad/boys”. They formed Team Swapo with the aim to wrestle the party presidency from the incumbent, Dr Geingob. This was an unheard off occurrence in the history of the Swapo for the incumbent president to be challenged. Not having learned, or simply too much tribally ingrained the challengers campaigned appealing to tribal ties between themselves and the delegates to the 6th Extra –Ordinary Congress of 2017- a fatal mistake. More-over, they strangely having been part and parcel as senior Swapo leaders of government since independence, started to distanced themselves from their own handiwork, and heap all the problems accrued from the decisions taken over the years onto President Geingob. They blamed him for bad leadership, drought, and for the economic recession as being the sole cause thereof, and called on voters to vote him out of office. 

Unfortunately the group’s blame game, and tribally based campaigning backfired and they were literally for all purposes and intents profoundly humbled and politically schooled, in the model of inclusivity, peace and prosperity for all which most Namibians regardless of their tribe, class, religion or gender want to see in Namibia. They did not lose but were mercilessly trounced as follows: Dr Geingob, 574 votes, cde Ekandjo 153 and cde Nahas Angula 39. 

Fast-forward to 2019 national elections, the Omusati group has found a new outlet to continue in their objective of upending the President. This time and also in part due to the weak economic situation they stumbled upon the concept of an independent candidate in the form of the erratic and quarrelsome Dr Panduleni Itula, who is using the former Team Swapo strategy of advocating that “Swapo is good, let’s vote for Swapo” but lets remove Geingob, he is the wrong leader because he is to be blamed for every bad thing in the country even for the lack of rains.  

Ironically, and in a twisted way, the reality is contrary to the so-called independent Dr Itula’s claims that he has come to save Namibia. First, the tenderpreneurs funding him are well-known unscrupulous money-mongers. The reason that they have roped in Dr Itula is because Dr Geingob denied them access to the State’s treasury through influence peddling. They are exploiting the reality of a bad economic situation in which many youths and Namibians feel the severest pinch

We do not know what type of a person Dr Itula is whether a Namibian patriot or a pure tribalist? However, it is clear from the activities and derogatory tribal sayings of his followers whom he has not called to order, that he condones such behavior. Some say, it is truly mind-boggling wishful thinking for a man with no administrative or managerial skills, who never even progressed to a deputy director, nor director or executive director, or a deputy minister or full minister level to raise irrational hopes that he can successfully ran this country and solve its problems systematically and methodically.

Finally, the onus is upon every peace loving and enlightened Namibian patriot white or black, to go to the polls on 27 November and vote Dr Hage Geingob, as President, and the Swapo Party to continue with the nation building project.

Staff Reporter
2019-11-26 07:26:41 | 10 months ago

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