The 2017 Congress has done what no other Swapo indaba could do, which is to break the steadfast unity that existed within the grouping known as the ‘Tanganyika Group’.
Tanganyika group, or Tanga group, is a reference to the first wave of Swapo activists who went into exile during the country’s liberation struggle.
Over the years, cadres who form part of that grouping have jealously defended and guarded each other, while the rest were relegated to the peripheries, at least where decision-making is concerned.
This time around, the cracks have appeared and comrades have drawn their swords ready to pounce on each other for political supremacy.
The Tanga group is made up mainly of politicians who are currently in the twilight of their political careers, hence the fierce battle for power in the party comes as no surprise. For many of them who holds ambitions to hold top positions in the party, this congress is a do-or-die scenario simply because the age factor is not on their side.
Take Nahas Angula for example who is contesting to become the party president at age 74, if he loses out now he would have to wait for another five years before he can aim for that position again. By that time he will be 79, an age considered too ripe in Namibian politics.
At age 70, Jerry Ekandjo is all but certainly also making his last attempt to become party president. And although he is aware that losing the contest could signal the end of his political career, for Jerry this is a risk worth taking.
Geingob is another comrade whose political life is at a do-or-die stage, at age 76 this is also his last throw of the dice for the position he has eyed for so long.
But when you have comrades who were once ready to die for one another battling it out in the political boxing ring, you ought to believe that the end is near.
Many Namibians who do not form part of the Tanga group have over the years complained that they have been side-lined in the party as most of the power is concentrated within Tanga members who are seen as a close-knit group that leaves no room for external forces.
Many of the so-called older guard, have been groomed and well prepared in the structures of the ruling party and Government before they were assigned higher responsibilities. This practice continues with a number of deputy ministers who are youthful….
President Hage Geingob remarked at the recently concluded UN General Assembly that “very soon, the last crop of the Tanganyika Group including myself will make way for the new breed”.
It is not known if President Geingob was suggesting to hand over power to what some call the ‘Nampundwe group’ which drafted the 1976 SWAPO’s constitution in Zambia. They followed the ‘Tanganyika group’ named after the Tanga Consultative Conference of December 1969 to January 1970, but also the generation of those born in the 60’s.
But while the ‘Tanga’ group is at it, they should not take the country down with them. Nothing is permanent in politics, and we cannot say that we did not anticipate a time when the ‘Tanga’ group will split. It seems that time has arrived.