Citizen Nahas Angula

I have been asked to paint a portrait of SWAPO Party in 2020 for the February/March edition of the Observer Connect Magazine. At the outset I confess that I am not a good artist. In addition I am not privy to the current inner party thinking.

The SWAPO Party is a legacy and heritage of all patriotic Namibians. We owe it to the Party that Namibia today is a proud nation, despite a myriad of challenges that we face.

The current SWAPO Party image is best portrayed by the protagonists of the organization, especially its spokespersons. Let us review some of their pronouncements in recent times.

In October 2019 the Secretary General of the Party, Sophia Shaningwa, told those present at the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) offices that the party was going to deal with Independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula, because “… we have all the money.”

We, as SWAPO members, make monthly contributions to the party. If we knew that the party has “all the money”, at least some of us who are retirees could have requested for conditions regarding our monthly contribution. We are now much wiser: The party has all the money!

Since SWAPO is a product of international solidarity one would have expected such money to be used for worthy causes, such as making a monthly contribution to some of the liberation struggle veterans, who find themselves in conditions of near destitution, rather than threatening political rivals.

Similarly, in February this year, Secretary for Information and Mobilization, Hilma Nikanor, told the media that despite the loss of its two-third majority in the National Assembly, SWAPO is still in “…control of the national cake.”

Such pronouncements paint a picture of a party which is more interested in being in charge of the national resources, rather than true to its constitutional mission.

The SWAPO Party defines itself in its constitution (1998) as “…a mass based political party born and steeled in the crucible of a popular and heroic struggle for national independence”. The party constitution further clarifies that the party “…is founded on the principles of democracy, solidarity, freedom, social justice and progress”.

Looking at the cardinal aims of the party and the pronouncements of the current leaders, one is left with the question: are these leaders speaking on behalf of the SWAPO Party as defined in its constitution or something else!

The impression one gets is that the party now represents the wealth-seeking class and has abandoned the ideals of solidarity, progress and social justice. This is where the problem starts. The mass-based political party appears to have been captured by the comprador elites using its noble history for private gain.

The recent developments surrounding the suspected corruption in the fishing sector, the Fishrot scandal, seems to confirm this trend. Up to now, the party spokespersons have not, out of courtesy, informed its members about the position of the leadership regarding the Fishrot.

Now as the ‘grapevine’ has its field day, all party members are suspected of being accomplices to the alleged crime. This attitude portrays a bad picture of our party. Some young members of the party are up in arms with protests.

Out of frustration some voted for opposition parties during last year’s elections. How does one explain a situation where an opposition party gained sixteen seats in the General Assembly from five seats it held previously!

It may create a good feeling in some to characterize youth frustration as “tribalism”, “Savimbi syndrome” and other epithets. Youth anger cannot be wished away. It must be addressed.

The party should return to its constitutional ideals of democracy, solidarity, freedom, social justice. Democracy demands that the party’s internal elections should be free and fair and not tainted by money and other inducements.

Leaders should be elected on the bases of proven commitment, dedication, experience, loyalty and competence. The spirit of solidarity and comradeship should be rekindled. The notion of social justice implies that party cadres should dedicate their energies to serving the public good rather their individual selfish cravings. Ostentation and greed must be shunned.

As the nation is going to celebrate its thirty years of nationhood, all citizens should honour, dignify, and respect this day of patriotism, commitment and sacrifice. This is not a day only for swearing in a new President. It is a day to remember, commemorate and celebrate our nationhood for which the SWAPO Party sacrificed so much. Their blood should continue to water our future!

Citizen Nahas Angula is well known to all Namibians. He is a former Prime Minister and a former minister who held various portfolios since Independence in 1990. He is a distinguished elder statesman of the ruling SWAPO Party where he served as ‘Teacher’ Nahas in the days of the Swapo educational centers in exile during the struggle. This small opinion piece is not enough to tell the rich story of the contributions to the nation by Nahas Angula.