Tjiriange denies controversial comments

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WINDHOEK – Former Swapo secretary general Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange has denied uttering remarks attributed to him by a local weekly newspaper, in which he is reported to have said the ruling party has lost its ideological direction.

“It is not correct and permissible for a person to put words in the mouth of the other person,” a fuming Tjiriange said.
“I was shocked and dismayed to read what a journalist attributed to me,” said Tjiriange, who is also a former justice and veterans affairs minister.
Tjiriange, who is currently the special advisor to the minister of home affairs, came under fire for the remarks attributed to him in an article published this week.
Many Swapo members questioned the insensitivity of the remarks as well as their timing, when the party is busy selling its ideologies to the masses ahead of the November 28 general elections.
“I never said and will never say most of the things that this man [the article’s author] attributed to me. If he is targeting me and tarnishing my name and through Swapo Party, he is touching the wrong person,” he raged.

If there are two things Tjiriange will never do, he says, is say bad things about God or try to destroy Swapo.
“Who am I to say that Swapo has lost its ideological direction? I said that Swapo is a party that has a conglomeration of different classes. There are workers, bourgeoisies, peasants, feudal, Christians, atheists, capitalists, socialists, etcetera,” Tjiriange said in a statement issued yesterday.
He added that the classes he mentioned “have different understandings and expectations of what they want and expect from the economic development of their country”.
“What the worker (the proletariat) who does not own means of production expects from economic development is not necessarily what a bourgeoisie who owns the means of production expects from the economic development of their country,” he clarified.
He said that during the protracted liberation struggle the different forces were united by one objective in Swapo – the liberation of the country.
After independence, he said, the different classes have had varying and different expectations about economic development.
“The dichotomy which separates the proletariat who do not own the means of production and capitalist bourgeoisie who own the means of production is there for any person to see.
“The expectations of these classes for the economic development of their country can never be the same.”
Tjiriange, a law graduate with a PhD, said there was therefore no ideological direction or ideological glue that binds the different classes, although they are members of Swapo.
“That is why it is difficult to have a clear ideological direction in the party which is composed of different classes which have different expectations from the economic development of their country,” he added.
Using religion as an example, he said Christians believe in God while atheists do not, which is why there is no ideological glue or understanding between the two forces yet they could live in one society.
“It is against this background or circumstances that Swapo has found a way which will bring all these varying forces and classes together under one roof. This does not mean that Swapo has lost its ideological direction, not at all.
“It could be just a dilemma in which the party could find itself. This is not unique to Swapo but is the problem of all parties operating under these circumstances.”
When it comes to the Swapo manifesto, he says he told the weekly newspaper he did not participate in drafting the latest manifesto and had not read it.
“Therefore, I never said that it [the manifesto] has become a drive for the few who are in control of that moment to push their agenda,” he said, in response to remarks he allegedly made regarding the recently launched Swapo manifesto.
“What I said is that within this conglomeration of forces the party must try to accommodate the interests of various classes and forces in whatever it is doing, which is indeed a difficult undertaking and Swapo is capable of addressing the needs of different classes and keep them united,” he continued.
About 50/50 gender representation, he said he told the journalist that Swapo should not forget that women were disadvantaged in the past and the government must try hard to put in place measures to solve this problem.
“However, it is my belief that we should not propel people into positions of power just because they belong to that or the other gender. The most important and determining consideration must either be the capability of the individual person and the commitment of such a person to the party,” he said.