In an epic rant, Swapo politburo member Kazenambo Kazenambo has labelled President Hage Geingob a tribalist, dictator and a leader who chooses to follow instead of leading.
During an exclusive interview this week, Kazenambo also spoke of the need for the ruling party to practice unity in diversity and the “no one should feel left out” mantras should mould the party and the entire Namibian house into a unified force.
Known affectionately as KK in the local political circles, he also used the interview to react to claims that ‘Team Swapo’ is a mere ethnic club formed to cement the dominance of Oshiwambo people in the country’s leadership ranks.
“It[Team Swapo] is an alliance of like-minded people who believe that the centre of power is Swapo and that power is dispatched from the party, even that of the President. We are from diverse backgrounds in terms of gender, political perspective and age. We must remember that when you are leading you must be able to manage diversity, and you should always try to align, adjust and forge for common ground as a leader. If you do not appreciate diversity in Swapo then you do not deserve to lead,” he charged.
He added: “Whether you call us Masalad or whatever, we remain Swapo members and we cannot be wished away because we are here to stay. Deal with us if you are really building an inclusive Namibia but one thing that is for sure is the fact that the centre of power will always be Swapo. We must all learn as Swapo members to manage our alliances. We can compete during elections as Swapo members, but that must not divide us.”
Kazenambo took issue with the fact that Team Swapo is labelled as an Ovambo clique.
“For someone to accuse Team Swapo of being an Ovambo line up is devoid of truth. Are they trying to tell us that the presidency at a national level is also an Ovambo club because Geingob is the only non-Ovambo in the top four positions of government?” he questioned.
“We must debate real issues, not issues of tribalism and ethnicity that do not exist. We can differ on real issues and still be comrades after. We differed starkly on the issue of Namibian refugees in Botswana but we resolved it and reached an amicable conclusion.”
Kazenambo said he wanted to contest to become the party’s vice president but ended up backtracking because of pronouncements he had made in the past.
“I was one of the proponents of gender equality and the push to have a non-Ovambo president. At the time we said that after a non-Ovambo president we must have a female president, I could not go against my word hence my withdrawal even after I publicly announced that I wanted to stand. That is why from our team comrade Pendukeni is the candidate,” he said.
Kazenambo accused Geingob of adopting manipulative tactics when he chose his slate.
“The current deputy secretary general was omitted because she comes from a group[Otjiherero] that is insignificant in numbers and he knows the key voting blocs. Some will be quick to say I am a tribalist because I am a Herero too. But it just goes to show that the team have no tribal orientation, it is a question of obedience and loyalty,” he charged.
According to Kazenambo: “If you are not in his team you are called names such as ‘masalad’ and being anti-Geingob. Since when were we anti-Geingob if we campaigned for him in 2014? Is it fair for us to be accused of being anti-Geingob after all we did to propel him to power? He is in charge of Swapo in an acting capacity but instead of unifying the party he is going around telling people that Pendukeni and Jerry are ungrateful because he appointed them and now they are challenging him. One questions the genuineness of the appointments, or were the appointments made thinking they will not challenge him in the future? If he says they are ungrateful, than he is also ungrateful to those of us who campaigned for him.”
“They[Pendukeni and Ekandjo] campaigned for him to win in 2014, but he was quiet now he talks of Savimbi syndrome. What happened to nobody should feel left out, is this only a statement of convenience? When others lose you want to say you rescued them politically, is that not convenience? How sure are that you would have won without their input? You pretend to be a person of decency but those around you are beating drums of insults and insulting your former friends but you are quiet. Why must we be punched every day for the pleasure of his new friends but as soon as we hit back we are called names?”
Kazenambo said further: “That is why the Vaino[Nghipondoka], Kazenambo, Desmond[Amunyela] and Lazarus[Jacobs], decided to team up because those new comers who are around him have insulted us and accused us of apparently wanting to capture the state. Since he was in our company, does it mean he also wanted to capture the state seeing that he was put into power by us?”
Kazenambo also used the opportunity to accuse Geingob of condoning tribalism and ethnicity when it is convenient for him.
“When we pushed for a non-Ovambo president he sat back silently because it was convenient for him, all of a sudden he wants to accuse people of tribalism, that is nonsense,” he said.
“The man we fought for so hard and were ready to die for betrayed us on a grand scale and he dropped all the values and principles we stood for when we were together. Our philosophy and principles were grounded on mutual co-existence of communities and individuals and that nobody should feel left out, but the man just changed overnight.
“Our philosophy was glued on issues of inclusivity but when he got into power he changed friends. It is his right to choose whom he associates with but it is not acceptable that he sits back while his new friends accuse us of being corrupt while he knows it is not true. If it were us, till today, we will defend Geingob where it is warranted. The friends who were not with him when he was in the political dustbin and no one wanted to associate with him are the ones calling us names,” said a combative Kazenambo.
We are not bitter because we are not friends anymore, said the former sports minister. He said they are bitter and angry over the insults hurled at them by Geingob’s supporters.
“We are actually relieved[that we are not friends anymore]. How can we be bitter if he had nothing to offer at the time, we did not benefit anything from him, in fact we carried him morally and financially. The way his friends disappeared when he was sacked as prime minister, so will they vanish the day he leaves State House. “We stuck with him when he had nothing to offer and made sacrifices for him. We were there to sell this man to the public so we did our part,” he said.
“We know his weakness and it is un-Geingob to see him remain quiet in the company of people who are insulting his former friends without making a public correction, his silence allows for this nonsense. If you swim with pigs how will you be distinguished?” questioned Kazenambo.
Kazenambo also revealed that Geingob offered him the prime minister and deputy prime minister positions in the past.
“He offered me the PM and DPM positions but I declined the offers because the pond was overcrowded by hungry lions, trampling over one another for positions. I gave a chance to those who were hungry for a job because my campaigning for him was on a volunteer basis, not for positions,” he said.
He added: “As for those scrambling for his attention because he holds power, only a few will be there when he leaves, that is why they are pushing away those who have been there. Some came there for pure business interests.
My unity with Geingob was not one based on convenience but on principles,” he noted.
He also accused Geingob of lacking conviction and consistency.
“We are seeing the behaviour of a leader who wants to follow instead of leading and he is very inconsistent. He was invited to the Damara festival but he declined, but as soon as an invite came to attend the Omagongo festival in the north he was quick to go. As a leader you cannot be so inconsistent,” he said.
He further accused Geingob of failing to take responsibility for his actions. “Leaders do not disown themselves from ideas or disassociate themselves from missions. In Geingob we are seeing a leader who wants to follow and lead when it is convenient but when it is ugly and wrong he does not own up,” he claimed.