Swapo leaders block disgraced Malema’s visit to NamibiaBy: SHINOVENE IMMANUEL
INTERVENTION by the top leadership of Swapo seems to have stopped a visit to Namibia by former African National Congress youth league president Julius Malema.
Malema was expected in Windhoek on July 5 for a lecture in memory of former Nanso leader Chris Hawala.
Swapo leaders, among them President Hifikepunye Pohamba, were concerned that the Malema visit might sour relations between Swapo and the ANC, as it was likely that the expelled former youth leader would have used the forum to criticise South African president Jacob Zuma.
According to sources in the know, some of the top Swapo leaders met with the organising committee this week and it was clearly spelled out that the ruling party did not sanction the Malema visit.
The organising committee issued a media statement yesterday saying that the trip was cancelled because they feared for Malema’s safety.
“It should be noted that Malema confirmed his coming to Namibia, but the committee fears for his security and the impact it will have on the youth league and its leaders. The cancellation is not due to the irritation by the leaders of our country, as we believe no one is above the law,” reads the statement.
The cancelation comes two days after Henny Seibeb, a member of the organising committee, was reportedly told to distance himself from organising the event.
Seibeb works at the Swapo head office as an assistant to party secretary general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, but was organising the event it in his personal capacity.
Iivula-Ithana confirmed that she called in Seibeb to ask about the Malema visit.
She was under the impression that Swapo had invited the former ANC youth leader, but was informed that it is a private issue.
“I was in China when this invitation appeared in the newspaper and I needed to obtain the correct information. Swapo has control over invitations by the party, but cannot control private invitations and the movement of people,” she said.
Iivula-Ithana denied that the Swapo top brass met with the organising committee.
The organisers also blamed the media for writing stories about the event.
“The cancelation has been necessitated by the constant and continuous link of the event to the Swapo Party or its youth league,” said the statement.
The committee apologised for any inconvenience caused and promised to refund those who had bought tickets to the event.
As liberation movements, Swapo and the ANC leadership enjoy a good relationship and it will seem as undermining South Africa’s ruling party if Swapo is to organise the event.
The radical Malema was expelled in April this year for sowing division within the ANC.
He recently told a Zimbabwean newspaper that President Jacob Zuma should not be the mediator in Zimbabwe’s long-running crisis.