Swapo has not degenerated – Geingob

Home National Swapo has not degenerated – Geingob

WINDHOEK – President Hage Geingob says the fact that some Swapo Party members took the party to court to get last year’s Swapo Congress declared unlawful and invalid, does not mean the ruling party has degenerated. 

“It is unfortunate that following this contestation, we are giving the impression that we are at loggerheads, Swapo against Swapo and comrade against comrade. I don’t believe that,” Geingob remarked on Friday when he officially opened the Swapo Party Extraordinary Congress at Ramatex in Windhoek.

His comments follow Wednesday’s victory for ‘Team Harambee’ when the court bid by two members to stop the congress which took place over the weekend failed. 

Two Swapo members-Mirjam Shituula and Selma Namboga who unsuccessfully tried to have the ruling party’s extraordinary congress stopped vowed to continue with a legal bid to get last year’s Swapo congress declared unlawful and invalid.

Geingob expressed concern that unfortunately, there are those who can only accept a situation when the outcome favours them.

“There are those who are requesting that a platform be provided, so that those who were defeated can have a chance to speak. However, the ultimate platform, the People’s Court, expressed itself. Because people cannot accept defeat, some comrades decided to go to the courts, which is their democratic right. This is democracy in action. It should not be interpreted as a sign that Swapo has degenerated,” Geingob noted. 
He explained in the past, one could not dare to criticise Swapo publicly. 

Therefore, he says that is a sign of how Swapo has changed and moved forward. “However, the urgent application in the High Court, which was intended to derail this extraordinary congress failed and so we find ourselves here today at this congress,” he told delegates.

During the 6th Swapo Party Congress, the amendment of the Swapo Party Constitution was amongst the agenda items. However, due to the fact that there were numerous other items on the agenda, it was decided that an extraordinary congress be held to deliberate only on the constitutional amendments.

Geingob said they are all cognizant of the fact that as for any law, constitutional amendments have the potential to result in unintended and sometimes undesired consequences. 

He stated it is with these potential realities in mind that they are called upon to approach this process with sober minds, diligence and foresight, in order to ensure that Swapo maintains its identity as a party that is progressive in its practices, methods, approaches and political philosophy.

He said the 6th Swapo Party Elective Congress was a watershed moment for the party.
According to him, congress highlighted the fact that Swapo has truly embraced the tenets of democracy and in so doing, established the congress as the “People’s Court”.

When the campaign for the 6th congress started in earnest last year, Geingob made a promise in the interest of maintaining cohesion within the party. 

At the time, he had said, “With the sixth elective congress of the mighty Swapo Party approaching, we are embarking into a period of contestation. This is a period, which ought to uphold the Swapo Party principles and values. In the contestation of all democratic elections, where there is more than one candidate, it is common and expected for multiple support groups to develop, whether you call them Team Harambee or Team Swapo, as respective candidates vie for support and ultimately, election. However, following contestation, everyone should rally behind the winner without developing a sense of ‘Savimbi Syndrome’, which is the belief that ‘I must be in and if I am not in, then everything must be destroyed.”
Furthermore, he had also said, “This campaign should therefore focus on the presentation of concrete proposals to propel our country forward. The mantra we should adopt during this campaign period should be to “play the ball and not the player”.

According to him, he said this with the understanding that it is easier for all to rally behind a winner if contestants, during the period of campaigning, played the ball and not the player. 

Thus, he urged all contestants to focus on the issues and not on the personalities because when one plays the ball, players accept the outcome once the game is over. 

“They shake hands and move on. I thought we shook hands and photos are there to prove it. I thought that the ‘People’s Court’ decided. As a party, we took a collective decision to adopt the practice of contested elections for vacancies,” Geingob said.

Journalists were left in the dark late on Saturday when they went back to the congress venue at the time stipulated by Swapo, only to find delegates finished at around 13h00 and not 17h00 as pre-arranged and could thus not get a post congress briefing.