Swapo policy articulation vs slate politics

Tujoromajo Kasuto

The candidate for the Swapo Party Deputy Secretary General position, Evelyn Nawases-Tayele has distanced herself from a slate that seem to be promoted by some supporters of the candidates.

Media reports have been describing her joined campaign pages with Saara Kugongelwa Amadhile, as Vice President and Armas Amukwiyu as Secretary General.

Nawases-Tayele says such grouping of candidates is against party constitution, adding that they are not responsible for the joined campaigns that have hit social media like a hurricane over the last few weeks.

‘’I do not know, maybe it’s good for people to talk about camps but as far I as am concerned about others forming slates, while we have been discouraged in our campaign guidelines not to have such, that is dividing people,’’ said the young politician.

However, she says she does not have control of what supporters do – ‘’who am I to say where I am, all that I believe in is everybody, as leaders in their own capacity and own rights, all of us are party members, when there is an internal competition within the party I do not know why we should go to such extents, of forming a camp. I do not have control if people think I belong with this or that camp,’’ she adds.

The Executive Director of the Swapo Party, Austin Samupa, told the Windhoek Observer yesterday that there was nothing wrong with candidates grouping themselves in campaign groups, saying it does not point to slate politics, but personal preference of the candidates.

Naweses-Tayele agrees that camps can be ‘’destructive and detrimental to the party’’ thus she will not support such developments and approaches that advocate for factionalism, slates and regionalism.

While, Nawases Tayele said that she is not in control of what her supporters do, former trade unionist, Cuana Angula argues the ‘’any candidate whose campaign supporters participate in such activities must condemn the actions of supporters and/or may be disqualified if they do not make a strong effort to end this behaviour’’.

Angula said that over the years, there have been leaders being accorded saviour status and to him this is what gave rise to slate politics, ‘’with the slate occupying all top positions in the Party and dominating the 85-member central committee and the political bureau’’.

‘’When one is reflecting on five years since the party’s 2017 congress and reflecting on 2004, slate was not an ‘alien tendency’ in the party, the party has failed largely because it was not united, the party has to crack down on divisive, slate-based campaigning leading up to the

November/December congress.’’ Angula strongly advices.

Angula said since 2017, the party has deteriorated to a point where it recorded its worst electoral performance in national, regional and local government elections and the underlying issue is that slate politics is not just about party positions as It is about one group seizing power, dominating the party and, by extension, to the government and having access to resources.

He notes that the party cannot continue to uphold a particular democratic procedure or concept that permits slate politics and the rebuttal to this is pretty straightforward, slates

have been formed as a result.

‘’What this tells us is that the party has inculcated a culture of prioritising leadership tussles over policy imperatives. Empirical evidence shows that this strategy causes the party to

become more polarised and weaker. The root of divisive slate-based politics and factionalism during the election campaign. Members who are breaching the rules must be hauled before the party’s disciplinary committee,’’ he asserts.

Additionally, he says the party must adopt a code of conduct that forbids certain actions that include “participating in any organised factional activity that goes beyond normal, recognised free debate and campaigning”, as stated in the party election campaign guidelines.

Meanwhile, Nawases-Tyele said that she sees herself as an agent who represents ‘’intergenerational harmony’’ and this is why she has assigned herself with this motto.

‘’I have taken the concept upon my as by carrying it out, I will be able to engage, mentoring and perhaps grooming in order to bridge the generational gap. This goes with that systematic approach to where the needs arise to raise issues that will be realised and promote satisfaction for those generations that are years apart,’’ she explains. The candidate narrated her own progression through the party structures and said this is her time to pass on the lessons learned and knowledge she has gained to the younger generations.

‘’Some of us have been carried through and through – groomed through these party structures and as one of those products who have risen through the section, regional and district levels, and now to national level, I’m the one that can say I have been properly groomed by the party and now quite ready to park in such a position,’’ she added.

Talking about the workings of the party structures, the aspirant deputy SG stated that the existing structures are still efficient on and off the paper, but there is a need for appreciation of lower structure roles such as those at the sectional and regional levels, as most younger people want to be solely assigned to the national level.

‘’Swapo Party is one of those parties is the only party that has organised type of structures that allow for democratic progression,’’ she emphasised, adding that this potential is unleashed and people are identified to participate in leadership positions. Therefore, she wants these structure strengthened these structures if she was to be the chosen one and ensure that resources are channelled down to these levels.

‘’We need to resource our people to make it more attractive for people to participate fully and actively in the structures of the party, as you will have young people that are in tertiary

institutions, NANSO level are not attracted and do not have the passion to be active in the party structures, that’s why I feel it is important to ensure that we strengthen these structures and resource them to make them attractive. Nawases-Tayele also notes that there is a need for awareness of what can be done and the influence that members have when active at lower levels.

She says this can be done through mobilising the membership of the party and the establishment of a proper database with the true reflection of the members that the part has.

‘’You soilictate this membership through various ways such as the membership contribution, some members donating to the party and making it financially viable to reinvest this money into the lower structures of the party,’’ she opined.

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