…Youth radicalism a sham, says Mbumba
Swapo’s politburo meeting slated for today will give indications on a wide range of matters, from presidential succession to congress delegates and burying factions.
Swapo is in for a bruising period in the run-up to the congress as factions square off over the party’s control.
In fact, the party finds itself in unfamiliar territory because for the first the time in its 57-year history, it is going to congress under the tutelage of an acting president.
Insiders are increasingly concerned that the divisions in the party will be laid bare during the nomination exercise tonight, particularly around the succession question.
Swapo is in an extremely complex position. Its dominant faction has co-opted a narrative created by President Hage Geingob supporters, which targeted several influential individuals, saying Geingob must be accorded a chance to serve two terms like his predecessors.
However, the motive for this narrative does not have the larger transformation agenda at its core as far as democratic ideals are concerned. Insiders say the agenda should be centered around ridding the party of the last obstacles in the way of unity and outrooting factionalism.
Geingob has been widely accused of delaying the nomination process at Politburo and Central Committee level to prevent his detractors from having ample time to campaign. It is expected that Politburo will now open the floor for nomination, since Geingob has now managed to secure support from party elders including the two former Presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Party sources claim that Geingob was delaying the top four nomination process to ensure that he is in pole position to be confirmed as party president at congress. One theory was that he was planning to deliberately leave the nomination process to the congress floor, which would mean none of his opponents had time to campaign, at least not openly. But this theory could also pose a danger to his campaign if talk of his waning popularity in the party is true.
Nujoma is allegedly backing Geingob in the name of saving Swapo from imploding and ensuring that Geingob gets his second term as State President. Nujoma is allegedly a proponent of Geingob finding a balance within the party leadership and also allowing people he considers arch-rivals within the top four. Pohamba is allegedly in Geingob’s corner but on condition that deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is Geingob’s candidate for vice president.
Although Geingob has allegedly been reluctant, he appears to be warming up to the idea. If Pohamba could have his way Nandi-Ndaitwah would be taking over from Geingob. Both former Presidents appear to have advised that Geingob does away with the notion of an unopposed sole candidate for the party Presidency.
Although no formal notification was issued, it is expected that sports minister Jerry Ekandjo will rival Geingob for the Swapo presidency.
Ekandjo is allegedly only interested in being Swapo’s president and has no ambition of being state president.
Ekandjo’s proponents believe having two centres of power will protect the party from being destroyed from within.
Senior Swapo sources said that Ekandjo’s camp has assured that Geingob will be allowed to run his two terms as State President if Ekandjo is to be elected Swapo President.
Geingob is said to be wary of this proposition. Those close to him believe that there will be nothing to stop Ekandjo from reneging on his promise come 2019 and deciding that as party president, he will be the party’s presidential candidate and not Geingob.
Ekandjo is believed to be running with Home Affairs Minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana as his running mate for party vice president. It is not clear who their candidate for secretary general will be.
Former SPYL secretary Elijah Ngurare as well as Oshikoto Swapo regional Coordinator Aramas Amukwyu’s names have been mentioned as possible candidates. Geingob is allegedly expected to select Sophia Shaningwa as a possible candidate for the secretary general post.
While current secretary general Nangolo Mbumba does not feature in the speculations, sources said that he is tipped to become state Vice President replacing Nickey Iyambo who is expected to retire from active politics in the coming year.
Party insiders said Geingob is planning to conduct a major Cabinet reshuffle within 48 hours after congress, should he emerge victorious, something which seems highly likely at this point.
Congress’ outcome is expected to determine the direction of the reshuffle. It is also expected that for the first time Geingob will be appointing his team of choice without being forced to make concessions based on party and political considerations.
Meanwhile Mbumba has hit out at young Namibians who claim to be radical – charging that he has no respect for individuals who speak from the comfort of air-conditioned offices, but claim to be radical at the same time.
During an interview with The Patriot this week, Mbumba questioned the purported radical spirit being flaunted by youth leaders who go around spewing vitriol and looking down on Namibian heroes and heroines; while celebrating foreign nationals.
Asked whether he or SWAPO tolerates radicalism amongst its cadres, Mbumba responded: “You are radical, but radical in what? Is going around drinking (alcohol) radicalism?
Is identifying yourself with leaders of other countries and looking down on the people who liberated your country radicalism? People go around hugging Latin-American leaders, is that radicalism? First, you must recognise those in your country and what they have contributed.”
He added: “There are people here, those you have mentioned (AR 4), they don’t even recognise the authority of Sam Nujoma, a very historic figure in our own liberation.
And now you go around hugging some Moralez or whatever and you think you are radical. Radical to do what?”
According to Mbumba, true radical leaders go to communities in the remotest of areas and work for them without demanding a single cent for their services.
“Radicalism is not a question of expression, but actually doing something for the people while expecting nothing in return,” he said.
Radicalism is defined as the political orientation of those who favour revolutionary change in government and society.
Asked why Swapo remains undecided on whether or not to endorse Geingob as the only candidate for party president, Mbumba vaguely said: “First, democracy is democracy, let’s accept that.
What democracy says is that nobody should occupy a position in Swapo without being elected. The president has to be elected, but the party must have enough discipline not create problems for itself by creating confusion.”
He added: “How do you have somebody whom you elected at the last congress[Pohamba], and the person says he does not want two centres of power, in line with the Swapo party constitution and put everything on the shoulders of his deputy[Geingob].”
“There are people who are fundamentalists in terms of following the constitution, I am not too sure that they are following the constitution.
There are people who want to a culture of maturity. A culture of discipline. A culture of continuity. That’s why we are saying the legacy continues. The legacy of Dr. Nujoma, the legacy of Dr. Pohamba and the legacy of Dr. Geingob. If we want another Dr[new president], let us create him.
But the aim should not be for someone to be the champion of whatever, but our aim should be to serve the members of the party.”
Seemingly throwing his weight behind Geingob’s sole candidacy aspirations, Mbumba said: “If we don’t know up now who is the leader[President] of the Swapo party and the Republic of Namibia, then something must not be right with us. (Then) we have some other idea.
The things that were not recommended by Hifikepunye Pohamba. The things that were not recommended by Sam Nujoma. Yet we are saying we are expecting the culture of the party and the constitution to continue.
The constitution cannot only be what you are reading…but rather the understanding of the background of your party.”
Mbumba added: “If in the ruling party, we don’t know who our leaders are. If we in the ruling party have so many choices, one for this, one for that, I am not sure whether that is the way to go. But the issue of democracy is that no one can just stand. You cannot come from Walvis Bay and decide that I am the sole candidate. No!”