Swapo Party members will be gathering in Otjiwarongo tomorrow to celebrate the 57th birthday of the country’s largest party.
There are plenty of reasons for the ruling party to celebrate yet another birthday though the landmark anniversary is likely to be somewhat bittersweet, given the internal challenges the party has faced in recent years.
The celebration of the former revolutionary movement’s birthday has in recent years become as boring as listening to a sermon where the pastor is just going on and on repeating themselves. April 19 used to be a date to diarise as party members await to be told by the party leadership what it has achieved as well as penning a way forward- in essence it has also been seen by many as the day on which the State of the Party is made known.
In the past the Swapo gatherings were packed to the brim-regardless of the venue or who the keynote speaker is- but now the former revolutionary party of great giants like Nathanael Maxuilili, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Peter Nanyemba and Greenwell Matongo struggle to pack venues to the rafters.
Although analysts have argued that filling venues is not an indication of support levels, the lack of interest when it comes to attending party events tells another story. This is a party whose officials have been implicated in corrupt activities. This is also the very same party that continues to receive waves of criticism regarding the manner in which it handles the land issue. Swapo has been accused of losing touch with the people of Namibia when it comes to land and housing provision. Perhaps most worryingly, the Swapo-led government continues to struggle when it comes to fighting inequality in the country. The gap between rich and poor continues to widen unabated. Informal settlements continue to mushroom faster than the town planning apparatuses. So bad is the situation, that between 2014 and 2016 three land activism movements spearheaded by Swapo card holders were born. Affirmative Repositioning, Landless People’s Movement and Muzokumwe Volunteers Organization continue to give the party sleepless as they continue to call for radical land expropriation policies. As the party looks to the future, The Patriot interviewed the head of the Swapo Party Elders Council(Mukwaita Shanyengana), Swapo Party Youth League’s(Veikko Nekundi), Swapo Party secretary general Nangolo Mbumba. Swapo Pary Women’s Council secretary Eunice Ipinge was not available for comment.
Swapo Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba says the ruling party faces no clear threat to its dominance and is pleased with liberations movement’s longevity and proud history in its 57 years of existence. Speaking to The Patriot during a comprehensive interview this week, Mbumba said he was pleased with Swapo’s 57-year journey “as not many liberation movements were able to succeed in achieving the independence of their respective countries.” “We are very pleased and proud of our history and journey travelled so far because not all liberation movements in the world have been able to achieve the liberations of their countries. We are equally blessed by God Almighty that those who have lead us through the struggles, the Sam Nujomas, the Hifikepunye Pohamba’s and the Andimba Toivo ya Toivos were able to live and see Independence,” said a proud Mbumba. Mbumba said one key moment in Swapo’s long history that stands out, is the implementation of the Policy of National Reconciliation which united all Namibians at Independence. “We (Swapo) introduced the Policy of National Reconciliation which united our people and brought peace to a country that was divided between those who were on the side of apartheid and those who were fighting for genuine independence,” Mbumba said. Additionally, Mbumba noted that under the leadership of a Swapo-led government, Namibia’s health and education sectors have “improved significantly. With the high fading rate of liberation movements in the world over, Mbumba believes “unity” is key to Swapo’s survival in the present day politics. “If we follow what our leaders have been teaching us that unity is number one against any other thing and if we continue to remain united, we will continue to develop our country. We should build a Namibian house that is big and strong enough for all of us, we should try to respect those founders of our party who have really devoted their lives, their youth and energy to the liberation of our country,” urged Mbumba. Mbumba went on to say: “We should educate the youth to become patriotic Namibians who are able to defend the gains of independence, we should definitely continue to care of the sick and be honest in all the things we do. One of my favourite line is, ‘tell no lie and claim no easy victory’,” he added.
While acknowledging that the ruling party has faced challenges down the years, Mbumba said Swapo faces no “clear threat” and remains the only “political vehicle” that has the capacity to take Namibia forward. “I see no clear or imminent threat, but in there are always challenges, it is part of life. So in that case the challenge is that we must protect our natural resources and the natural resources must benefit all our citizens. The real challenge is also the impatience and in some cases the indiscipline amongst our youth. They (youth) have to do their work diligently, not just thinking that if one day they become the leaders of the country they will solve the problems. Problems are not solved by one person, they are solved by many people who to work together in a coordinated way,” Mbumba said.
Mbumba said another challenge that Swapo facing is the fact that the party’s most experienced leaders are “ageing”, he called on members to respect and take care of them. Sharing similar views as Mbumba was acting Swapo Party Youth League secretary Veikko Nekundi who said the party’s 57 year journey had been characterized by great “leadership and cadreship”. “I am overly pleased, not any (other) movement could have successfully travelled the journey travelled by Swapo, thanks to the leadership and disciplined cadreship,” said Nekundi. To remain relevant and keep up with the fast changing political landscape, Nekundi said the ruling party needs to: “Deploy cadres who are able and capable to deliver for the populace and not to delink ourselves (Swapo) from the masses. Swapo needs to deliver services as required by the masses and not to frustrate the masses.”
Nekundi said infightings and slow implementation of key services are the threats faced by Swapo. “The slow implementation of critical services, not promptly responding to the cries of the masses, internal infightings and the wind of regime change agenda are the predicaments that the party is dealing with at the moment,” he said. On his party, Swapo Elders Council Secretary Mukwaita Shanyengana said Swapo has avoided becoming a “puppet government” which is dominated by external forces. “Those DTAs and other parties were created deliberately to counter Swapo but when they (South African regime) realised that they could not defeat it (Swapo) in fighting (at war), they believed that if they had some parties that are supporting the colonisers in Namibia, they (DTA) will win and continue with their puppet government,” charged Shanyengana.