The battle for the soul of the Swapo Party got ugly this week, with Politburo member Kazenambo Kazenambo launching a scathing attack on the party leadership who resolved to recall Bernadus Swartbooi from the National Assembly.
But while Kazenambo is accusing the Swapo Party leadership of being autocrats and victimizing anyone seen to be against them, another politburo member Nahas Angula has called for tough action against those who make reckless comments, saying crises are not new in Swapo.
Kazenambo was quick to distance himself from the decision to recall Swartbooi, saying he was not invited to the Politburo meeting that took the decision to recall the youthful leader. Another politburo member, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana also indicated that she did not attend the meeting because she was not invited.
Swartbooi accused the party leadership of being autocrats parading as democrats.
“This decision is illegal and it must be treated as such. This is a clear violation of the Swapo Constitution. Some of us were deliberately omitted from the meeting because they knew we would question the decision,” he said.
Kazenambo charged: “I have never experienced this in Swapo, whether in exile or in an independent Namibia. The decision is driven by personal hatred and it is an attempt to silence people.”
He described the environment in Swapo as “contaminated”.
“Governor Erkki Endjala must explain when he says the party dealt with [Peter]Nanyemba because he died mysteriously, did he mean he[Nanyemba] was dealt with through death or what…we need a probe into this. Maybe some of us who are so vocal will also be eliminated and dealt with because how do you solve a problem through death?” queried Kazenambo.
He further accused politburo members who resolved to recall Swartbooi of practicing “selective morality”.
“I see no problem with Swartbooi, all I see is silencing. Other revolutionary movements have died because they adopted authoritarian ways of handling those who disagree with them, we must be careful as a party,” warned Kazenambo.
He claims party members who are afraid to speak out against the injustices committed to others of being there only for the bellies.
He also dispelled claims that his outspokenness against the party is because he had a fallout with Geingob.
“What fallout, I need nothing from Geingob and he knows it. He must not think he got to power to abuse it and it does not mean because I voted I should follow him blindly,” said Kazenambo.
Angula on his part said the departure of Swartbooi must not be seen as the end of Swapo.
“Crises of this nature are not new to Swapo, hence I am confident things will return to normal. Swapo is like a bus, some passengers get on and others disembark but the bus will keep on moving,” he said.
He is also confident that the party will self-correct and urged young party members to abide by the set boundaries.
Angula said he had spoken to Swartbooi in the past warning him to “cool down”.
“He will not be the first nor the last person to join or leave Swapo. But the Politburo had to take action because if you do not act you are seen as being weak and if you act they say you are harsh. So the best thing is to take the best decision provided that you avoid being vindictive,” he said.
He added: “These are the things [Andimba] Toivo ya Toivo warned us about when he was alive, all these manifestations are the results of people fighting for resources and they are driven by greed and hunger.”
The party was quick to note that the, consequences will follow Swapo members who misbehave irrespective of the position they occupy. However, in the absence of action taken against Swapo members who were seen promoting tribalism and the recent recall of Swartbooi from Parliament over alleged tribal remarks he made has painted a picture of a leadership practicing selective morality when dealing with its members.
More so, the ruling party has been marred by controversial allegations of corruption mounted against those at its top echelons and personality clashes that signify an organization burning from within.
Making his expected announcement in a packed Commando Hall in Katutura yesterday, the former //Karas Governor left no stone unturned and took jibes President Geingob while labelling Swapo as Ovambo People’s Organisation.
With an exception of former President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Kazenambo Kazenambo, Swartbooi said there was a leadership vacuum in the party.
Swartbooi said the reason why the party decided to recall him from parliament and take no action against Endjala was because Swapo cared only about advancing interests of the Ovambo people, which meant the party had not evolved from its origin, OPO.
He said: “That’s why Geingob cannot deal with of Ovambo speaking members of OPO (Swapo). He will have to deal with a Nama (Swartbooi) because he has to show the Ovambo constituency in the party how powerful he is. But Geingob has not read the history of [Hendrick] Witbooi and others.
He has not understood it. We are combat-ready Mr Hage, we are not afraid of you. We will deal with you.”
“I want to thank Lukas Hifikepunye Pohamba. He was a mature elderly man (leader). As for Mr. Geingob, there is just a leadership vacuum that even if he tries, he can never make up.
We have a 75-year-old child in State House,” vented the unapologetic Swartbooi.
Furthermore, Swartbooi accused Geingob of lobbying him to campaign for him ahead of the highly anticipated elective congress in exchange for a ministerial position. “Over the past four months, Mr Geingob has been looking for me. Every person that Mr Geingob has sent to me, has asked three questions in the following order: “Are you close to Armas Amukwiyu? Are you going to insult Mr Geingob? Are you going to meet Mr Geingob?” On all three occasions, I said ‘no’.
I am not working with Armas politically, certainly I am not going to insult Mr Geingob.
I may not respect him personally, but I must respect the Office (he holds). When you disagree with an old man, you must respect his age.
From the fourth person, they started to say the following: If you (Swartbooi) are willing to go to congress and fight against Armas, Kazenambo Kazenambo, Lazarus Jacobs and Vaino Nghipondoka, go and fight them.
If you agree to fight these individuals on behalf of this other character (Geingob), you will be rewarded a ministerial position,” Swartbooi narrated.
According to the former deputy minister, his generation face an uphill battle to fight corruption, resettlement and land redistribution.
“How do we reconcile ourselves in supporting a regime that keeps on eating away from the future of our children and of our grandchildren?” Swartbooi asked.
With reference to Namibia’s struggle for independence, Swartbooi said the current crop of leaders are betraying what others sacrifice their lives for.
Swartbooi accused Swapo of being an undemocratic and thanked what he termed “Swapo dictators” of granting him his wish.
Swartbooi said: “The negative tenacity of Swapo to disregard the rights of others is central hallmark that defines that party and for that matter, its leaders.
So where I am today is not a surprise, I expected it. In fact I worked for it (recall).
I want to thank the dictators of Swapo for granting us the freedom by puling us out of parliament so that we are able to do the work of agitation even sharper.”