With more than 60% of the population made up of young people, the youth in the ruling party have realised the importance of young people being deployed into leadership positions to boost Swapo’s appeal among young voters. Divisions within the ruling party have fuelled calls for the party’s old guard to step aside and make way for a new generation of young leaders, with a section of the party’s youth wing openly calling for a quota & grooming system in all leadership structures. Factions in the ruling party this week confirmed that the gap between the young members and old guards in the party has reignited the succession debate ahead of the party’s 2017 elective congress. One group, which backs incumbent acting Swapo president Dr Hage Geingob to be elected substantively next year expect little challenge for their man next year.
The other group believes that the party needs a president that would best bridge the transition between the old and the new guard – saying Geingob is not the right man for such a task. “As a region, we are concerned with the waning of cadre unity in the region[Khomas] and nation at large. The youth demand a quota & grooming system in all leadership structures in the country that are Youth friendly and purposefully based on succession and continuation,” said SPYL’s secretary for secretary for information, publicity and mobilization in Khomas Sam Hamupolo.
The ruling party enjoyed notable wins during recent national and regional polls, but the young wing is clearly not oblivious to the cracks within the party that threatens long term unity within the party. “Time has now come for self-introspection; for us to shed some light on issues of the day that we have noticed, analysed and understand in our view to be matters of serious concerns which need cautioning and strategic direction. It is in the best interest of the Party and Country for self-criticism with the aim of self-correction as provided for in our supreme documents, the Constitutions,” said Hamupolo. This next meeting of the SPYL’s national executive committee (NEC) is likely to be hot as the division and possible return of the four prodigal youth league members in the name of Dr. Elijah Ngurare, George Kambala, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and Job Amupanda is set to take centre stage, with the blame game shifting between acting SPYL secretary Veikko Nekundi and the departed NEC members who form part of the Ngurare camp. Hamupolo clearly enjoys the backing those rallying behind Ngurare’s return, seeing that former NEC members Eddy Kafita, Imms Nashinge and Ramona Hidileko were all in attendance during Hamupolo’s press briefing this week. This is a strange move seeing that since Ngurare’s booting from the party, attending SPYL meetings was the least of their worries. He called on the SPYL Central Committee to hold a meeting as soon as possible to welcome the four who were expelled from the party last year but have since been reinstating after taking the matter to court.
“There should be no reason for delay as these comrades never defected to any other political party (ies) during the most difficult times of their very young Political careers. After all, SWAPO PARTY is the winner. Nobody should become bigger than the Party but we should all serve our meaningful diverse purposes and yet leave the Party standing much stronger and better equipped when we depart,” he said. Although not mentioning names, despite being pressed to do so by the media, Hamupolo said some SPYL leaders are distancing themselves from the process of fully implementing the new amendments of the 2013 Extra – Ordinary Congress SWAPO PARTY Constitution whilst documents in our possession indicate the opposite. “We again call on the SPYL Central Committee to pronounce itself on the harmonization of the SPYL Constitution with that of the Mother body,” he said.
The Patriot has been told that there is a push and pull affair within SPYL as the current leadership of the wing allegedly do not want the quartet to be reinstated into their former positions. Nekundi yesterday stated that matters pertaining the constitutional amendments were dealt with at the Central Committee level last year, but the rest of the matters raised were never submitted to NEC. “All regions are represented on the CC, and in terms of the SPYL CONSTITUTION article 7 (2)(h), all SPYL members should comply with the decisions of the majority even though such a member had contrary views,” Nekundi said.
He also indicated that the SPYL NEC does not necessarily need to sanction regional press releases but such press releases must comply with the SPYL constitution, in particular article 18 (2)(a) and (h) respectively, adding that “in this case such provisions were not complied with.”
Nekundi said the NEC has a scheduled meeting today and where the press release content will be discussed. “We will move forward as a collective organization,” he said. Hamupolo clearly thinks the discussions of bringing younger people into the leadership structure is valid and identified the Swapo Party School as a vehicle which can be used to mold young party members. “It needs to be mentioned also that it[party school] is long overdue given the context in which we want to see our future as a Party and Country. We anticipate the proper training and guidance of future leaders (Youth) to entrench a sense of Loyalty and Allegiance to the Party and Country. It is also imperative to mention that it is vital to promote the notion of protecting/upholding of the unifying Party principles of Solidarity; Freedom; & Justice rather than individualism,” he said. Ideally, said Hamupolo, the graduation from the Party School should be the primary requirement, amongst other, for any cadre to be elected and or appointed to serve in the Party or the GRN.
“This will ensure that the cadres deployed understand and implement the Party Ideology, Agenda and programmes to avoid misrepresentation of the Party’s position. The Party School should prepare leaders in the art of Socio-Political science, Political mobilization, Articulation of the Party’s Agenda, Bravery, Nationalism and strengthening of Unity amongst cadres,” he noted. A senior party official, asked about party discussion involving the new generation, said: “Ideally, the plan is to groom the youth in the party, but the current status of SPYL shows that they are not ready for power because they cannot even iron out their difference at that level. For now they cannot be handed the power to move high up in the party.”
Ngurare and Nekundi are seen as potential deputy secretary general or secretary general candidates at next year’s congress as the youth league looks to break into the unconstitutional ‘top four’ body of the structure. The body consists of Dr. Hage Geingob (acting president), Nangolo Mbumba (secretary general) and Laura Mcleod-Katjirua (deputy secretary general). If the Ngurare faction gets its way, he would be the ideal secretary general. But the prospect of Geingob being elected as party president and Ngurare as secretary general is one that those who knows about the perturbed relationship between Geingob and Ngurare do not want to think of. The Patriot spoke to some youth league leaders who confirmed the renewed push to get youth league leaders to play a more active role in the party’s leadership, with some harboring the feeling that the old guard do not understand the needs of young people.
This can be seen as a strategy to close the gap between the young and old guard in a bid to match the demographic trends of the country. An NEC member speaking anonymously agreed that the older generation in Swapo must make way for young leaders to take the party forward, but warned against people who were self-serving. “They do not necessarily have to stop their involvement in the party, but their experience can be used as a compass for the youth,” said the member. Another member said: “There must be a new generation to lead the party because this country is dominated by young people whose problems and visions are not understood by the elders. If the youth cannot be empowered, then they must atleast be represented in the top four.”
The discussion about bringing young faces into the party’s leadership comes amid a strong push for Geingob to play a mediatory role when dealing with youth issues instead of treating them as outcasts. Some seniors in the party fear that alienating young party members could drive them into the hands of other political parties. But for now, calls for young members to climb the party ladder are not much of an issue for the Nekundi-led SPYL because of his positive stance on the Geingob party presidency. Nekundi, currently a parliamentary backbencher on a youth league ticket, has often faced criticism of abandoning the youth agenda, but he has not made it a secret that under his watch economic empowerment of young Namibians is the focus. Death of Swapo media
Of late, said Hamupolo: “We have unfortunately noticed the Party media influence waning largely due to the non-functionality of the Party Media Machinery. The Party owns a Newspaper, Printing Press, and a Radio Station. The Party’s Communication Machinery must be revived. Namibia Today Newspaper must come to life, NamPrint printing press must be re-established; & Radio Energy must get back into Party hands.” This comes despite the fact that the Swapo-led government constantly faces accusations that it is remote-controlling state-owned media such as the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation and New Era newspaper. Hamupolo refused to comment on these accusations. “With the current status quo, we are experiencing the negative impact of the general media influence within the Party and GRN that leads to disunity and mistrust amongst the Party Members, Party Leadership and the greater Citizenry in the Country,” he said. He also pointed out that: “The recent case of the “SWAPO FOUR vs SWAPO PARTY” should serve as a serious lesson for us in our moving forward. In this case one can safely conclude that the Party Leadership got pitted against each other with the influence of the Commercial Media representing a desired outcome.”