Is the call for two centres of power in Swapo an anomaly or an indication of a party that is constantly transforming and evolving in the best interest of its membership, its supporters and the country it governs? In order for Swapo to ensure longevity it should resolve to constantly renew itself and amend its constitution time and again to keep abreast with the times in accordance with the wishes of its membership. The position of state president is one of the great responsibilities and one must keep in mind that the moment one is elected as state president by virtue of the Namibian constitution you become president of all Namibians. In order not to be bias or partisan it becomes necessary that the two are separated. The president of the republic of Namibia is voted by direct, equal and universal suffrage so this clearly suggests that those who vote for the president are not necessarily Swapo members, and it is also plausible that someone who is not from the ruling party can be elected as the president of Namibia. All these are factors that support the notion that having two centres of power may be in the best interest of the party and the country as a whole. The Swapo congress – which kicked off yesterday – is the supreme organ of the party and should move to debate and proclaim itself on the issue of the party candidature for the national elections as addressed in Article IX of the party constitution and Part 3 (53) of the rules and procedures for the election of party office-bearers. How will Swapo Party handle having a party president who is not the head of state? A precedent had been set when Sam Nujoma remained head of the party while Hifikepunye Pohamba ascended to state presidency. This went on for two years. This smooth transition ushered in a new era of democracy within the party because the two centres of power complemented each other. Before that, Swapo at its extraordinary congress of 2004 resolved to have three candidates in Hidipo Hamutenya, Hifikepunye Pohamba and Nahas Angula compete to be the party’s candidate for the Namibia general elections slated for later that year. When Pohamba stood as candidate for the 2004 elections he was not the president of the party. According to Article IX of the Swapo constitution, the party president will be its CEO. In the same vein, the president of the Republic of Namibia shall be the head of state and government. These two are equally demanding positions which require a head of state who can run the country with a team of executives for all Namibians, unperturbed by the actual running of the party at whose behest he serves. In the same vein the party president can be an equally competent cadre assisted by the Politburo with its secretaries for transport, economic affairs, labour, etc. ensuring the smooth running of the party. It is an ideal situation that has been overlooked in the past but could serve in creating greater efficiencies and synergy within the party and the state, with the party being voted directly by the masses and the party dictating to the government on the wishes of the electorate. Another bone of contention which should be addressed at the congress is whether members of the Politburo should also serve in the executive of government. Currently more than 60% of the members of the Politburo also hold executive positions in government and I hold to my earlier argument that these are two equally important portfolios – but when one is on ministerial state duty can one really be expected to serve the party equally? The ideal scenario, given the state the party is in with many of its members being of the opinion that it is in tatters, is to address the administrative deficiencies by moving to separate Politburo members from Cabinet and not allowing members to serve in both. At the same time the party can move to give Politburo members salaries and benefits befitting the positions and responsibilities they shoulder. The party has enough resources to guarantee an income for those who dedicate their time and skills to the party but it becomes cumbersome to fulfill this obligation when the many companies that are owned by the party are used as the personal property of those running the companies, as opposed to being run for the interest of all members of the party. “Two centres of power”, if that is what it is called, can guarantee that. But then again, there is only one centre of power and that is Swapo. So let us rather refer to this conundrum as a “separation of state and party”. * Vitalio Angula comments on political and contemporary social issues.
2017-11-24 09:52:44 10 months ago