Sydney !Ganeb is unequivocal about what the ruling party should do to restore internal unity and subsequently confirmed how elders are using factionalism within the youth league to their advantage. In an exclusive interview this week, !Ganeb did not mince his words when he explained the process that seemingly rendered the youth wing “useless and toothless”. !Ganeb, who currently serves as SPYL secretary for labor and justice described the youth wing as “confused, reckless and panicking”. “Something happened during the run up to 2012[Congress] and that effectively rendered the SPYL as useless and toothless, a pawn in the hands of the few, no more debates and discussions, all the SPYL have to do is to affirm as directed,” he charged. His forthright view marks him out as one of the decisive leaders in what is fast becoming an explosive subject amongst Swapo’s youth ranks. Several SPYL members have felt hard done by the incumbent party leadership which many feel use and discard the youth when it best suits them. Swapo has in recent years faced a restive youth league and a new generation of post-apartheid voters questioning why the party has not delivered more on all fronts, !Ganeb believes a cordial consultative relationship is the panacea to that. “SPYL as far as I remember always had a cordial, warm, pleasant, friendly and consultative relationship with the Party and its leadership. SPYL could propose policy changes and government would listen and implement (example Free and universal primary education) such. SPYL had an influential place at the table of SWAPO, Nujoma would consult and Pohamba would engage youth until late hours and educate and direct us – they would listen tirelessly to the youth and coach them in leadership and we all would speak the same language,” he said. Ganeb! accused the party’s leadership of not being open to criticism while at the same time also not doing enough to forge unity in the party.
He indicated that the elders who want to remain in leadership have a deep seated interest in the way the youth formation will organize themselves and vote at the congress. “If the youth can vote in their favor, they will retain their power, thus they must align themselves with the right group. Why do you think that the SPYL 13 May 2017 central committee came out publicly to back the incumbent as the only candidate after a lengthy consultative meeting at the “BIG” house State House. Just ask yourself whose interest does it serve? Is it the youth or the elders. Can you really divorce them from the challenges that the youth league face?” he questioned. He also speaks of the ‘unequal’ treatment meted against party members.
“Not all members are treated equally – not only in respect to the above members[Dr Elijah Ngurare, Job Amupanda, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and George Kambala] but many others. Just look at what happened at Grootfontein this week[last week] during primaries there and what happen at the disputed CC of SPYL (In both instances aggrieved members who were not happy with the outcomes of the meetings write to the leadership for intervention, grievances in both cases relate to the constitutional provisions). Immediately we saw a letter from Cde Geingob on social media circulating whereby the legal department (Dr. Kawana) was asked to give advice with the view to nullify the outcomes there,” he insists. He continues: “Than we ask the question why was the same principle not applied to the SPYL grievances which were registered with the office of the SG? Why is Grootfontein special, we have not heard anything so far as SPYL, but immediately on the same day we see Kawana being summoned to intervene…what hypocricy is this.” !Ganeb said: “One wonders why similar situations are handled differently. It is the classical animal farm of George Orwell. There are many examples of this, I don’t need to repeat them. But to answer you as to what do make of it. No power should ever be vested in one person, especially in a diverse, multi cultural, multi talented, all inclusive broad movement like SWAPO, that is and will be disastrous.” He expressed concern whereby “powerful individuals will determine what happens to who and for what, some will be taken to disciplinary committee, others will get marching orders and so on without real engagement, there is no room for political discussion and we only have to deal with you summarily.”
“But if it is the other side nothing will happen to you. We must all be subjected to same treatment as we are all equal before the SWAPO constitution.” Since the youth league has thousands of members and a significant voting block at the party conference, with the current divisions it is unclear exactly how much influence the group will wield come Congress, something which is of concern to ! Ganeb who said “that is the reason I was at the forefront of trying to unite the structure earlier this year.” According to !Ganeb: “They[party elders] will make sure that the SPYL is divided because it serves them well, the more divided and confused SPYL the better organized they are, well it is not their fault, therefore the youth must be united, bury the hatched, forgive each other and come back as a force to be reckon with in this internal contestation of power. Let us stop managing factions amongst ourselves and genuinely seek to be united and return to our glory days.”