‘Swapo kids’ go ahead with new leadership amid rift

Kadiva Hamutumwa

… defy order from mother body

The Namibian Exile Kids Association (Neka) over the weekend concluded a tension-filled congress, described by some as a reflection of the political strife often witnessed in Swapo.

The organisation, which is yet to be officially admitted as an affiliate of the ruling party, held its first-ever elective congress at Otjiwarongo, marked by walkouts and infighting between candidates and delegates.

The tension prompted Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa, who attended the opening of the congress on Saturday, to call off the congress, saying the association’s “ugly campaigns” would negatively impact Swapo and its campaign for the elections slated for 27 November.

Neka delegates ignored the directive and went ahead to elect a new leadership.

Political analyst Rui Tyitende says he is not surprised by the fracas that unfolded before and during the election of Neka’s new leadership.

“The leadership of Neka have taken a cue from their mother party [Swapo] when it comes to conniving, backstabbing, and a blatant disregard for established principles and norms governing an organisation with a democratic outlook,” he says.
“It is quite evident that a fish rots from the head, and a culture of organised chaos appears to be deeply embedded within the DNA of Neka,” he says.

Tyitende says despite the intricacies and political bickering, Neka’s legitimacy remains questioned by the youth who believe that ‘struggle kids’ are being favoured for public sector jobs.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah says the infighting among Neka delegates could be inspired by the factionalism witnessed in Swapo.

“I think the association has lost direction and this is partly because of camps that are within the ruling party. As a result we are seeing the camps in the ruling party playing out within the exile kids association,” he says.

Kamwanyah says Neka has lost direction, adding its purpose is to promote the well-being of the children of liberation struggle heroes who were born in exile or went into exile at a very young age.

“When you look at the current disputes, the overarching goal of the association has been pushed away, and we are seeing people fighting for the leadership of the association,” he says.

Neka’s founding president, Benita Naakambo, this weekend cautioned that the association should prioritise promoting the welfare and identity of Namibians raised in exile during the liberation struggle.

She said those who want to use the association to move up in the ranks of Swapo should desist from doing so.

“Neka must not be used as a stepping stone for easy ways into structures of the party. For anyone who wants to use it for that purpose, we advise that you go through the structures of Swapo, like anybody else,” Naakambo said.

She said Neka must at all times defend the aspirations of the veterans of the liberation struggle with no fear or favour.

“We don’t have time to be hand clappers, dear comrade, we are here to serve a purpose, and to that purpose we must stand respectfully and strategically. It helps nothing to say you are honourable, yet there is nothing honourable about you,” Naakambo said.


The election was marred by delays, delegates walking out, and allegations of “dirty tricks and shady dealings”.

Upon hearing this, Shaningwa wrote a strongly worded letter, demanding that the delegates postpone the elective congress.

“Your ugly campaigns at this time when we are just a few months before the elections will spill over to Swapo, and will affect our party campaign negatively,” she wrote in the letter dated 31 March.

Shaningwa said when she attended the Saturday launch, she and minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta advised that Neka should postpone the election of their new leadership or work together in a peaceful manner.

“Yet I am still receiving bad news of tensions between the two groups, which is not in the spirit of Swapo. Therefore, I strongly feel that my advice to halt your elections today is appropriate, and is in the interest of both Neka and Swapo to which you are to affiliate,” she wrote.

However, the delegates continued with the election for new leaders.

Kadiva Hamutumwa secured the presidency of Neka with an overwhelming majority, receiving 125 votes, compared to four votes received by former president Rauna Amutati.

Sacky Nendongo clinched the vice president position with 108 votes, while Elizabeth Shimwafeni was elected secretary general with 110 votes.

Simubali Simubali was elected deputy secretary general with 65 votes.

The congress, which saw the participation of more than 190 delegates, also established a central committee comprising 26 members, with regional coordinators automatically assuming membership according to the newly endorsed Neka constitution.

A motion was passed to integrate four former or founding Neka members into the central committee.

Neither Kadiva nor Shaningwa answered their phones or replied to questions sent to them via WhatsApp by the time of going to print.

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