Martin ‘Bazooka’ Nanyemba
It is said that the Swapo Party’s capacity and will to fight back has been severely weakened by ego-based internal conflicts in the lead up to the 2012 and 2017 elections for the vice president and party president positions.
These acrimonious standoffs lingered on much longer than necessary and are threatening the continued existence and the relevancy of the Party going forward. It needs to be stopped urgently.
Those who lost out should make peace with themselves, the Party and the victors – and accept their political fate.
There is no profit for senior veteran comrades to target their party president as the problem while presenting themselves as saviours. We must learn from history that the fall of many revolutionary organisations was not caused by external forces but by internal power struggles.
Unfortunately, the fall from grace of revolutionary movements and political parties is often to the benefit of counter-revolutionary elements that stoke the flames of conflict, with the knowledge that they stand to gain all the benefits.
To those who want to remove Swapo from the Namibian political scene, it is immaterial as to which Swapo veteran political leader is right or wrong about Swapo Party affairs.
They are united in their resolve to get Swapo out of power and will even exploit existing differences by siding with those few scapegoating the party president for any real or perceived wrongs in the party. After all, machiavellian real politic requires that to destroy a regime/party, you need to ruthlessly strike at its leader and bring him down, so that the sheep can go astray directionless and defenceless – just right to be picked off one by one.
Party leaders and functionaries need to wake up to the reality of the times and see the big picture. There currently exists a well-coordinated externally supported and funded strategy to remove former liberation movements from power across the SADC region, with the aid of the “corruption” labelling media campaigns.
It is apt that the party president has termed this year, the Year of Resilience, because it is time for Swapo and its sister parties across the region to display utmost resilience, which they can only achieve through the adoption of modern strategies to deal with 21st-century problems.
Issues such as youth unemployment and lack of quality service delivery have turned the political environment into a quagmire for former liberation movements. Immobility and lethargic response to real-world problems have not helped and this has allowed the counterrevolutionary movement to gain a foothold, especially among young people whose emotions are easily swayed due to the rising frustration of economic isolation and poverty.
It is one thing for the uneducated to be poor and frustrated but when you have thousands of well-educated youths, unable to earn an income and who are growing in frustration, you have a powder keg on the brink of explosion.
On the other hand, those who won the party’s internal competitions for the governance mandate should also demonstrate further magnanimity and do whatever is politically necessary and possible to foster a spirit of camaraderie, at all costs, for the sake of the Party’s political survival, and to prevent the Party from becoming irrelevant to the current context of effective service delivery based Namibian politics.
It is crucial that all Swapo party faithful understand there are no winners or losers in Swapo. Either everyone wins together or everyone loses together. The party was forged in the flames of unity and nationhood; therefore, it is only disunity, tribalism, ethnicity, selfish individualistic careerist ambitions, naked greed for monetary gain and other counter-revolutionary tendencies that can threaten the party’s future.
Having the above in mind, Swapo veterans and leaders of the 60s onwards should realise that the current state of the Swapo Party is a direct result of their collective contributions or inactions for the past 31 years in government and the party. Thus, they are directly and indirectly responsible for the party’s good or bad fortunes today.
They should also realise that political conditions have changed in Namibia since 1990, and that Namibia has entered the era of the post-liberation youth generation. A generation that has neither melancholic sentiments nor regard for liberation politics. Their only interest is in the immediate delivery of economic prosperity. Therefore, the emphasis should be on how to position the party as a transformative party of choice for this post-liberation youth generation.
Prioritise economic liberation
To do that, the party has to return to the high moral ground of being revolutionary, regarding the prioritisation of the second struggle for the economic liberation of all Namibians. Meaning, we should cease the talk of the second struggle for the economic liberation of all Namibians in an abstract, academic and utopian sense. Rather, let us commence with deconstructing the concept in its totality to identify and remove the continued oppressive economic, legal and financial constraints hindering the economic emancipation of the majority of previously disadvantaged Namibians in everyday life – 31 years after independence.
The party must lead and direct the government to focus its major attention to systematically identify and remove deeply ingrained and constructed layers of mountainous barriers and obstacles over many decades, which are preventing hundreds of thousands of Namibians from participating meaningfully in everyday life economic activities.
The issue of well-entrenched white monopoly capital is real; the Party cannot shy away or run away from it. It has to be addressed, regardless of the presence of the comprador class within the ranks of the Party.
Political freedom never came as a result of begging or being gentlemen and gentlewomen-like. It took the force of fighting, real deaths, displacement and an entire generation of the 60s and 70s having to sacrifice their youth, for the white racists’ captors to free their African captives in Namibia.
Stop behaving as sheep
Furthermore, the Fishrot saga has also put the party in a defensive mode to the extent that despite the gallant efforts of the Swapo party top four and the information secretary, others are seemingly not willing to stand up for the party. Indeed, nowadays, it is a lamentable sight to behold the mighty Swapo Party being reduced in Parliament to a status of a victim of bullying by two opposition leaders of LPM, just because it lacks unity of strategy, unity of purpose, and the ability to close ranks as Comrades.
When Comrade Utoni Nujoma was initially denigrated, insulted, dehumanised and harassed, strangely no aid was forthcoming from fellow Swapo MPs, and it has been the pattern since then (although some are trying now individually), as it is currently the case with the president.
As President Geingob, cautioned in his address to the Swapo Party caucus, the ruling party MPs must act like a majority party and not as if they are a minority opposition party, by setting the agenda, and defining the rules of engagement in Parliament. Meaning they should have a good battle plan. Truth be said, their collective inability to effectively contain and neutralise the LPM duo’s bullying strategy is at times a serious embarrassment for the image of the Swapo Party, as a vanguard revolutionary party of the national liberation struggle.
Fight back like hornets
These factors, among others, may explain although not serving as valid excuses, the reasons for the party’s seemingly passive mode (for a long time the party has not being on the offensive against its detractors), and inability to close ranks to protect its President against uncalled for media and individuals’ insults, innuendo’s and character assassinations.
Clearly, if the party cannot defend itself and the political gains it has made since 1990, it goes without saying that it cannot protect its own president.
This picture of a besieged Swapo Party, unable to defend itself – and one that may perhaps see itself as a victim of political conspiracies – must be rectified through a well-thought-out battle plan and accordingly rectified soonest. It should start with a reintroduction of modern counter-propaganda machinery, as was the case during the liberation struggle.
The party must start addressing as a united force, those conspiracies which are visible in the ongoing political propaganda war against its’ president and itself, or risk being blitzkrieg out of power by the sheer power of media propaganda.
As the great revolutionary and global icon, Fidel Castro, once said, “A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past.” Swapo cannot be relegated to the past; the struggle must and will continue until we attain economic independence. It is time for the Swapo faithful to get off the beds of roses, stop behaving like sheep in a kraal and reignite the fire of revolution by behaving like hornets in a nest, restless and energetic until the task at hand is successfully completed.
Aluta continua, vitória é certa!