Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa is “allergic” to journalists and will not discuss any party-related matters with the media, as she does not report to them.
This was the response New Era received from an evasive Shaningwa, following Swapo’s decision to accept a group christened Former Plan Combatants’ Association (FPCA) as its latest affiliate body.
The paper sought to establish if the association, which joined the party’s formal structures less than three months before the elective congress, will send its contingent to the gathering that will decide the ruling party’s fate for the next five years. “Who are you in the first place to ask me those types of things? Did you hear that I am allergic to journalists? I suffer [from] that allergy, especially when you people are asking me things with regards to my party,” Shaningwa said.
As SG, Shaningwa is Swapo’s chief administrator and directly influences public policy through her seat in Cabinet.
“I told you not to stick your nose where it doesn’t fit or else you [must] come to my office and join me [Swapo]. What is going on here? I didn’t tell you anything. I didn’t send that letter to your newspaper. How did you get hold of that letter? Go back to the sources. I am not your source,” Shaningwa said before hanging up.
Swapo’s constitution makes provision for affiliate organs, wings and associations to participate in the congress and meetings.
Members of such organisations may also put forward proposals and defend them, vote at meetings and elect or be elected to positions of authority, subject to constitutional restrictions.
Other Swapo allied wings include the Elders’ Council, Women’s Council, Youth League, and the National Union of Namibian Workers.
The FPCA is headed by former Navy commander, Rear Admiral (retired) Sinsy Nghipandua.
Their acceptance to the party is confirmed in a letter by Shaningwa to Nghipandua on 24 August.
The decision emanated from Swapo’s central committee meeting on 20 August 2022.
“I am pleased to inform you that your application for affiliation to the Swapo Party has been granted and approved by the central committee,” Shaningwa wrote.
The FPCA, however, is exempted from paying affiliation fees for 2022, Shaningwa added in the letter.
“I am convinced that the Former Plan Combatants’ Association (FPCA) will discharge its responsibilities with eagerness and dedication in order to ensure overwhelming victory for Swapo,” she said.
The FPCA was conceived at its founding conference in Ongwediva on 6 August 2022 when its constitution was also adopted.
Its existence was necessitated by the need for ex-Plan militias to unite in order to promote the welfare of all former combatants and their families.
In its quest to reconnect ex-Plan soldiers, FPCA will hold a reunion in Ongwediva from 22 to 25 September.
It is requesting sponsorships to make the event a reality.
“We are cognisant of the fact that many former combatants are scattered all over the country, most of whom are either retired or unemployed. Therefore, they will need any form of support to enable them to take part in the reunion,” the FPCA’s media statement reads.
The association also aims to develop mass mobilisation and campaign for Namibians to rally behind Swapo.
It also wants to “defend the independence of Namibia for which the blood of thousands of Namibian martyrs was shed”.