Affirmative Repositioning (AR) activist and 2024 Presidential Hopeful, Job Amupanda said the ruling party SWAPO is now old, tired, fatigued and unable to understand modern realities and aspirations, despite still appreciating its past achievements.
Amupanda, who earlier this month was elected to serve on the City of Windhoek’s Management Committee, indicated that the ruling party is a “grandmother” that did good things while she was growing up.
“It is a well-known approach of the African people that it is the responsibility of the youth to take over from their grandparents,” he said.
The activist said in an interview with this publication that SWAPO will be spiritually liberated when its President, 82-year-old Hage Geingob hands over power to a 37-year-old President.
The former Windhoek Mayor said ordinarily, a young person like himself would be focusing on his family and traveling with friends, but his motivation for standing for the Presidency comes at a time when it is clear that the country and its people have reached a decisive point.
“You either look on as your country collapses or you stand up to rescue, calm and redirect your country. We are at a crossroads. It is a choice between comfort and standing up. Between the past and the future. Between the old and the new. The consequences of not standing up are too ghastly to contemplate,”Amupanda said, adding that currently, there are no alternatives.
“We have no choice but to ascend to the highest chair in our country from where we will direct and steer the country, its economy and its people to a better place. The decision to stand is interventionist in purpose, orientation and objective,” he said.
While articulating his presidential aspirations, Amupanda explained that the Presidency is an embodiment of sovereignty. It is supposed to carry the innermost hopes and aspirations of the Namibian people and champion the collective interest as a nation and a people, he said.
He explained that the presidency is supposed to lead and be directed by the best among the people and inspire confidence in the masses. Its presence must be felt both figuratively and practically.
Amupanda was highly criticized by fellow AR Activists, Paulus Kathanga and Simon Amunime last year, who said the movement is being hampered by Amupanda’s leadership style. They questioned his “self-appointment” as the movement’s Chief Activist and accused him of mismanagement. Amunime last year questioned how Amupanda was able to appoint himself in the position, without democratic elections and nominations.
“AR started in 2014, now it’s 2022. Why did you not adopt it as this year’s programme of action going forward? The Landless People’s Movement came, after that the Independent Patriots for Change came but they have structures. Why did you not do it while you were a mayor?” Amunime questioned at the time.
The two, Kathanga and Amunime accused Amupanda of being selfish, by hogging the position of Councilor, without giving other activists a chance.
“What is the harm in allowing other Activists to take up the seats at Cow and allow them to prove their leadership and allow them make a living with that N$30 000 allowance a month each, from council whilst serving the residents of Windhoek at the best of their abilities? Since many of these Activists are unemployed and are blacklisted by the regime of the day because of their association to the movement, this is despite them having various post-secondary qualifications,”the two questioned.
Amupanda yesterday claimed the Presidency, presently is a shadow of what it used to be. He described it as a crude travesty and an empty shell.
The Presidential hopeful said whether the current president is doing his job or not, it is irrelevant to the type of future that he has in mind for the country, its economy and its people. He added that everyone knows that Namibia is one of the most unequal nations on the face of the earth.
“This is despite the riches God has given us. We know that our country is defined by a monumental failure to deal with unemployment, poverty and inequality over the past 33 years of flag independence. Those that owned the economy in 1980 are the same ones owning it 40 years later after we attained our freedom,” Dr Amupanda said.
He said there is no week that passes by without reading or hearing about corruption adding that these objective facts are a clear indictment of the performances of the incumbent president although he is not their focus.
The activist indicated that he close analysis he found that most of the current problems are a result of a weak incapable state. When in power he aims to build a strong capable state that is interventionist in character and added that he will decisively deal with the question of natural resources and joblessness and economic growth.
Amupanda further indicated that Namibian State under his political leadership would decisively deal with corruption, the corrupt, and discontinue what he termed as secret governance.
“The state will assume the responsibility of job creation as opposed to the current laissez-faire attitude that expects the imaginary private sector to create jobs,” he said.
Amupanda further claimed that the decline of the Namibian economy is not caused by external factors as postulated by right-wing elements in the “Geingob regime”. He said the problems are caused by a weak state that is unable to lead the economy and discipline economic forces towards an economic development agenda of industrialisation.
“We will introduce a developmental state that is characterised by, among others, a competent bureaucracy, an interventionist state, and industrialisation and corporatism as a key priority,” he stated.
Amupanda also indicated that the nature of the country’s economy, which is effectively a settler economy, had led to the current unemployment issue.
“What is required at this stage, is a clear program of job creation that focuses on both the quality and quantity of jobs. The challenge of unemployment, together with poverty and inequality, will enjoy the attention of our administration,” he stated.
The activist added that with energetic and brilliant minds, they are confident that they will find a solution.
It is further his position that he is already involved in fighting corruption, adding that the Presidency will give him more power to deal with corruption in ways he was unable to deal with it as an activist.
“We will reform the ACC to be more capable, transparent and trustworthy. The government will not only rely on the ACC but will also have its own measures and programs to deal with corruption,” he indicated.
He said it is clear that their interventionist state will have programs that are inward-looking as well as opposed to only looking at the outside.
“Independence programs will be left to the regions to organise with our resources focussed elsewhere. We will not be spending millions on events like the Independence Celebration. Our spending must be towards productive sectors of the economy and not consumptive aspects. Once we grow the economy and become rich as a country, we may again consider these things but it is surely not part of our priority,” Amupanda stressed.
He urged the Namibian Nation with the following comment: “As Mangaliso Sobukwe once told Africans; the people of Namibia must take into Namibia a vision of a Namibia reborn, a Namibia that will not relent, equivocate or compromise. Although there are many challenges they may face today, they must not worry because their president is coming.”
Meanwhile, Fillemon Shikomba, a Swapo Party Youth League member says Amupanda did not deliver land to the informal settlement residents of Windhoek and that he failed to protect the residents from eviction when he was in power the same way he did when he was campaigning for Mayor. “He failed on his promise to deliver land to the people of Windhoek” Shikomba said in a tweet.
In a recent brawl between Michael Amushelelo and Amupanda, the former accused Amupanda of “being worse than the current politicians” and accused him of being a hypocrite. Amushelelo said Amupanda let down the cleaners of City of Windhoek, who demanded better wages, at the time he was Mayor.
Before he became Mayor in 2019, he tweeted saying “Leaders of 637 cleaners at the City of Windhoek came to me this morning. Some are cleaners for 20 years but have never been permanent. They are on a N$3 500 salary, no medical aid, no pension. We are meeting all workers on Sunday (20/10/2019) for a way forward”. The municipal workers went on strike a few weeks ago and are currently facing disciplinary measures after they went on strike.
Amushelelo has since called Amupanda out, saying he used people to gain political power. He further revealed that he paid for billboards which promoted Amupanda as a mayoral candidate an assertion Amupanda never denied. It is not clear who is paying for the current billboards for Amupanda who’s a lecturer at the University of Namibia. Although he calls himself an Activist in Chief, Amupanda didn’t indicate if he’s running as an independent candidate or a candidate for AR. His billboards do not give clarity.