Political Perspective

Political Perspective

SWAPO’s denial of responsibility for the ‘List of 20’ does not ring true, and the party’s current stance towards ‘dissidents’ is not going to promote the cause of unity within their ranks.

The ’20’ is an allegedly anonymous list doing the rounds, and contains the names of certain prominent members accused of ‘unparty activities’, and similar, if not the same, as one which did the rounds during the 2004 Extraordinary Congress during which the three-cornered contest for the Presidency took place and certain people who had a preferred candidate in Hidipo Hamutenya at the time, appear not to have been forgiven for their ‘transgression’. IN 2004 it was ‘good’ to agree with Sam Nujoma’s choice of Hifikepunye Pohamba; OK to support Prime Minister Nahas Angula’s candidature; but plain ‘bad’ to align yourself with Hamutenya.(The witch-hunts which resulted clearly showed that Swapo’s commitment to democracy was a sham then, as it remains now).The consequences of this are still playing themselves out in Swapo internal politics years later and it is most unfortunate because even the most ‘loyal’ members are being ‘tarnished’ in the eyes of the rank and file, with few means of redeeming themselves.Their ‘crime’ was to freely make a democratic choice in a contest that was approved by the structures of the Party.At present, Swapo is likely to jettison those who had not even contemplated joining the newly formed Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) into the political wilderness! Swapo Secretary General John Pandeni denied responsibility for the mysterious list, describing it as a ‘divisive ploy’ to cause confusion and division.He attempted to affirm that many of the 20 were in fact valued comrades.But his statement didn’t ring true because it was followed by Oshana Swapo Co-ordinator Erastus Uutoni giving credence to the campaign against the 20 by saying that of them all, only Minister Nickey Iyambo was not aligned with what he called the RDP ‘reactionaries’.More ominously, Uutoni claimed that the notorious ‘Ananias Nghifitikeko’ of anonymous e-mail campaign fame would be silent now that Hamutenya had left Swapo, since this was the intention behind the poison letters in the first place! It is really time now for Swapo to come clean on this and identify the person who maligned a host of people, many Swapo leaders too, in a vendetta which even became the subject of a rather half-hearted investigation on the part of our state security cadres.It is fair to say that a number of people on the list of 20 have now moved over to the RDP, but others, such as Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, have been forced to come out publicly and deny alliances with any party other than Swapo.It just seems so counter-productive on the part of Swapo to be labelling people and alienating them at a time when they should be concentrating on mending the rifts in their ranks and consolidating their unity.For certain leaders to therefore claim that since Hamutenya and others had left the Party, it would once again be ‘mighty Swapo reunited’ is very far from the truth.Coming as these things do, on the eve of the Central Committee meeting and Congress which follows next week, Swapo is going to have to do some serious homework to putting their support base at ease once again after questioning the credentials of so many of their stalwarts.There’s bound still to be serious fallout when both the CC and Congress meet, not least of which are the attempts to cast former Prime Minister Hage Geingob, up for the candidacy of Vice President for the second time, out into the wilderness once again.And eventually the Party may find out too late, that those who haven’t left voluntarily will have been chased away.Their over-reaction to the whole RDP saga has, in fact, been counter-productive to any prospect of Swapo unity, and has once again given legitimacy to the intolerance within the ruling party.This is a pity, because a broad majority of membership do not think along these reactionary lines, but a vocal and vociferous minority, left unchecked by the leadership, has brought Swapo into further disrepute.In addition, if they only but knew it, they have added fuel to the RDP fire! Swapo must learn something from all this, or ignore the signs at their peril.They do need to democratise themselves and for once and for all divest themselves of the ‘liberation movement’ ethos that seems to cast anyone who thinks differently into the ‘enemy’ category.People have the right to make political choices, and even change their minds, without victimisation.They can even support one party and vote for another.This is democracy and Swapo needs to embrace it.IN 2004 it was ‘good’ to agree with Sam Nujoma’s choice of Hifikepunye Pohamba; OK to support Prime Minister Nahas Angula’s candidature; but plain ‘bad’ to align yourself with Hamutenya.(The witch-hunts which resulted clearly showed that Swapo’s commitment to democracy was a sham then, as it remains now).The consequences of this are still playing themselves out in Swapo internal politics years later and it is most unfortunate because even the most ‘loyal’ members are being ‘tarnished’ in the eyes of the rank and file, with few means of redeeming themselves.Their ‘crime’ was to freely make a democratic choice in a contest that was approved by the structures of the Party.At present, Swapo is likely to jettison those who had not even contemplated joining the newly formed Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) into the political wilderness! Swapo Secretary General John Pandeni denied responsibility for the mysterious list, describing it as a ‘divisive ploy’ to cause confusion and division.He attempted to affirm that many of the 20 were in fact valued comrades.But his statement didn’t ring true because it was followed by Oshana Swapo Co-ordinator Erastus Uutoni giving credence to the campaign against the 20 by saying that of them all, only Minister Nickey Iyambo was not aligned with what he called the RDP ‘reactionaries’.More ominously, Uutoni claimed that the notorious ‘Ananias Nghifitikeko’ of anonymous e-mail campaign fame would be silent now that Hamutenya had left Swapo, since this was the intention behind the poison letters in the first place! It is really time now for Swapo to come clean on this and identify the person who maligned a host of people, many Swapo leaders too, in a vendetta which even became the subject of a rather half-hearted investigation on the part of our state security cadres.It is fair to say that a number of people on the list of 20 have now moved over to the RDP, but others, such as Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, have been forced to come out publicly and deny alliances with any party other than Swapo.It just seems so counter-productive on the part of Swapo to be labelling people and alienating them at a time when they should be concentrating on mending the rifts in their ranks and consolidating their unity.For certain leaders to therefore claim that since Hamutenya and others had left the Party, it would once again be ‘mighty Swapo reunited’ is very far from the truth.Coming as these things do, on the eve of the Central Committee meeting and Congress which follows next week, Swapo is going to have to do some serious homework to putting their support base at ease once again after questioning the credentials of so many of their stalwarts.There’s bound still to be serious fallout when both the CC and Congress meet, not least of which are the attempts to cast former Prime Minister Hage Geingob, up for the candidacy of Vice President for the second time, out into the wilderness once again.And eventually the Party may find out too late, that those who haven’t left voluntarily will have been chased away.Their over-reaction to the whole RDP saga has, in fact, been counter-productive to any prospect of Swapo unity, and has once again given legitimacy to the intolerance within the ruling party.This is a pity, because a broad majority of membership do not think along these reactionary lines, but a vocal and vociferous minority, left unchecked by the leadership, has brought Swapo into further disrepute.In addition, if they only but knew it, they have added fuel to the RDP fire! Swapo must learn something from all this, or ignore the signs at their peril.They do need to democratise themselves and for once and for all divest themselves of the ‘liberation movement’ ethos that seems to cast anyone who thinks differently into the ‘enemy’ category.People have the right to make political choices, and even change their minds, without victimisation.They can even support one party and vote for another.This is democracy and Swapo needs to embrace it.

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