Swapo, Namibia’s most formidable liberation movement ever to have emerged on Namibia’s political landscape - turned 60 years.
The journey to 60 years was no walk in the park. That lifespan is exactly 21,933 days ago. Those days are packed with extraordinary political triumphs, military exploits, unsurpassed diplomatic shrewdness and life-taking decisions against one of Africa’s heavily armed military powerhouses, which have brought us where we are today - celebrating Swapo’s 60 years birthday in independent Namibia, which looked light-years away at its formation.
The day was Tuesday in April that year when the Owambo People’s Organisation (OPO), was transformed into Swapo, officially marking the birth of the South West Africa People’s Organisation, SWAPO of Namibia, with Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma as its first president who would lead the struggle to its logical conclusion on 21st March 1990 when independence dawned.
The first six years from the birth of Swapo were spent on political mobilisation to rally Namibians behind Swapo as the only political force that would bring about Namibia’s independence, and the diplomatic offensives to mobilise the international community to recognise the just cause of the Namibian people.
As the years passed by, Swapo soon realised that political mobilisation alone would not force South Africa to relinquish its control over Namibia. On 26 August 1966, Swapo launched the armed struggle to complement the political and diplomatic campaigns to set Namibia free.
The three fronts bore fruits when the United Nations Organisation, UNO, having first recognized Swapo as the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people adopted Resolution 385 in 1976, which called for free and fair elections in Namibia, supervised and controlled by the UN.
That Resolution was later followed by Resolution 431 of 1978, through which the UN Secretary General appointed his Special Representative for Namibia to ensure the early independence for Namibia. Resolution 432 was later adopted that year again, which declared Walvis Bay as an integral part of Namibia, followed by Resolution 435 of 1978, which established the United Nations Transitional Assistance Group (UNTAG) to assist the UN Special Representative to ensure the early independence of Namibia through free and fair elections as contemplated in preceding resolutions.
Apartheid South Africa was not keen to implement those resolutions, forcing Swapo to up the ante on the armed liberation struggle as the only effective way to bring South Africa to the negotiation table or face military defeat.
Swapo thus heavily mobilized and placed modern military resources and warfare arsenals at the disposal of the People’s Liberation of Namibia, PLAN, under the able leadership of the late Comrade Peter Nanyemba, Swapo Secretary for Defence, and other senior PLAN Commanders and Commissars such as Dimo Hamaambo, Salomon Hauala, Mathias Ndakolonghoshi Mbulunganga, Amunyela gwa Shalali, Charles Ndaxu Namoloh, Shalli Martin, Danger Ashipala, Hanganee Katjipuka, Erastus Negonga, Amuntele gwa Shihepo, Helao Nafidi, Ndali Kamati, Greenwell Matongo, Phillemon Malima, and many others.
As a flurry of diplomatic offensives around the world continued in the late 1970s and 1980s, PLAN too, intensified its military onslaughts against the apartheid military forces in Namibia, exacting heavy casualties on the enemy over the same period, resulting in the historic battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1987/8, which was a turning point in the final push for Namibia’s independence.
The armed struggle lasted for 23 years. It took 10 solid years for Resolution 435 to be implemented. We arrived in Windhoek in 1989, soaked in blood and sweat. But, they say, the harder the struggle, the sweeter the victory.
Compacting a history spanning 60 years in a few paragraphs is no easy task. There are just too many important events which have shaped who we are and where we are today.
But whatever the case may be, the role played by PLAN in bringing about Namibia’s independence would always be at the centre of that history. Sam Nujoma, as president of Swapo and Commander-In-Chief of PLAN, led the political and armed struggle with an unsurpassed sense of majestic purpose.
However, as we celebrate Swapo’s 60 years birthday today, the party is painfully at a crossroads. The dynamics and moral glues that have held us together for six decades are waning away. The worst, unfortunately, if not sadly, is unfolding before our eyes.
If the outcome of last year’s Presidential and National Assembly elections are any compass to guide us and go by, Swapo is facing an uncertain and precarious future.
We have lost the youth - the backbone of any learning and growing political party. The leadership has increasingly made Swapo irrelevant to the needs and aspirations of the youth. If their needs and aspirations cannot be not addressed within Swapo, they ship out. And rightly so.
No political party anywhere in the world has permanently sustained itself forever by clinging on to the Old Guards. Old leaves must always give way for new ones to help grow the tree.
Last year’s elections shook Swapo to the core. The Party lost 14 seats and kissed its revered two-thirds majority goodbye.
There are thousands of young people out there who are so bitter today that they could not vote last year to teach Swapo a lesson because they were under age by a few weeks and days when the supplementary registration ended. They were not going to vote for Swapo, at least the majority of them.
Just imagine how many youths are turning 18 years each month from now on up to the year 2024 when we will hold our next Presidential and National Assembly elections. It is politically very scary.
Their frustration, and they are justified, with Swapo has dire and serious implications for Swapo’s political growth and dominance. Serious introspection is needed to save Swapo. Slate politics is the monster in room Swapo.
The sooner this monster is honestly addressed and removed, the better the chances for Swapo’s survival. We owe it to posterity to ensure that the Swapo we bequeath to succeeding generations tomorrow is far better and stronger than it is today.
Let us ask ourselves soul-searching questions and trace our missteps and self-correct before it is too late. In doing so, the-hard-to-swallow question should be: With so many lives sacrificed and so much blood shed in the just cause spearheaded by Swapo over the last 60 years, in whose hands will Swapo lose power?
History will judge us harshly if we become accomplices in seeing Swapo going down its political grave in our lifetime. It will be a sad day in history for us, individually and collectively, when that day dawns.
2020-04-21 10:09:20 | 3 months ago