YOURS TRULY IDEOLOGICALLY: Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

“All the natural resources and the means of production must ultimately be owned publicly,” reads an article from what had come to be known as the “yellow book”, a booklet outlining Swanu of Namibia’s objectives for the liberation and reconstruction of Namibia.

It does not end there but further enumerates this party’s revolutionary intents post-colonial. Its blueprint for the radical socio-economic transformation of the country. “Free enterprise activity in certain sectors of the economy may be allowed for a certain period of time, provided it is considered beneficial to the national economy and the people’s welfare.”

Swapo published its first election manifesto in July 1989, in which it called for a just and equitable society. In 1998, the party’s stated economic goal was to “bring change in ownership relations, bring about equitable distribution of national income, create rational linkages of sectors and diversify the economy” (SWAPO 1998:8).

The socialist rhetoric had all but been removed, with the party stressing, “No wholesale nationalisation of the mines, land and other productive sectors is envisaged in the foreseeable future”, and “the independent state of Namibia will stand ready to negotiate new and appropriate agreements with both the existing foreign companies and new investors interested in participating in the development of Namibia’s resources for mutual benefit”.

Way back in 1974 when Swanu adopted its famous yellow book, it may not have been so much explicit but its inclination towards socialism or its socialist orientation was unmistakable. Since surely its famous and then most revered document have seen various transformations and/or dilutions. But even if one is to give them the benefit of the doubt, for probably having shed the debilitating image of the NNF on whose ticket they contested the 1989 elections, it may not be taken for granted they are back to their old self, socialist oriented today.

“The economy shall be restructured with a view to ensuring a just and fair redistribution of wealth income, raising the standard of living and providing full employment, that is, creating the greatest possible number of jobs,” reads Swanu’s 1989 election manifesto pertaining to its economic policies.

Swapo of Namibia in its election manifesto in July 1989, called for a just and equitable society. Its economic goal was to “bring change in ownership relations, bring about equitable distribution of national income, create rational linkages of sectors and diversify the economy.

Swanu and Swapo, arguably, were two, if not the only socialist parties in Namibia during the liberation struggle, and probably before the 1989 elections, if not now, 30 years after. It may thus not be outlandish to compare their economic policies with the rest of the pack then. The Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), was then perceived a right-of-entre conservative party, the party of the propertied classes, whites. “Every person’s right to acquire, own and dispose of property will be safeguarded,” determined the party in its 1989 manifesto, the only brief reference to the economy in the said manifesto. “Economy based on private, public and co-operative rights of ownership and initiative, social justice and equal opportunity for everyone,” stated the DTA then.

“The NPF (National Patriotic Front) believes that a Namibian-Styled Mixed Economy (Namibian Constitution) where elements of both the private and public sectors, cooperative (ala DTA) and collective ownership (socialism?) and foreign investments interplay and complement one another and operate within the context of the democratic political system will bring about economic growth and development, diversify our economic relationships and lessen our dependency on foreign countries.”

“The UDF (United Democratic Front) supports a mixed economy for Namibia which provides for the private sector on one hand and a public sector economy (with a limited macro-planning function on the other, “ the party promised in 1989 endeavouring to dynamically redress the unequal distribution of wealth between the poor blacks and the wealthy white minority.

Among the principles of the Federal Convention of Namibia (FCN) was accepting “free market system and the principles of a mixed economy as departure points for a prosperous Namibia which will create sufficient employment opportunities”.

Nothing in the manifestos of both Swanu and Swapo expressly and markedly distinguish the two from the rest of the pack in terms of their economic policies, or their ideological orientation towards a radical socio-economic transformation., [especially, in terms of their socialist orientation]. Thirty years or so down the line, there has been little shift in the economic policies of all the political parties, which have participated in elctions in Namibia.Let alone in their ideological posturing. Neither do any of the economic policies of any political party speak much to radical economic emancipation or transformation. Given this how can they really spearhead a radical socio-economic transformation? Definitely they cannot!