As Swapo party internal campaign continues and seemingly reaching climax as candidates look forward to battling it out at the seventh national congress, slated for November, Swapo member and a candidate for the central committee, Obeth Mbui Kandjoze feels more still needs to be done by addressing leadership and competency skills throughout the rank and file of the party.
Kandjoze shared these sentiments when asked about what competencies and capabilities candidates vying for top three positions of Vice President, (VP), secretary general and deputy secretary general positions, should possess, including aspirants eyeing to be CC members.
“It is a mix bag of all sorts in so far as I am concerned. The Swapo Party has not really dealt with the issues of leadership criteria, competencies and capabilities in order to start cultivating a leadership crop that meets competencies and capabilities against which measures of quality and other such measurables can be assessed,” he said in a wide ranging interview with the Windhoek Observer.
Kandjoze without mincing words said, “the leadership credentials must cover loyalty, membership, Swapo Party service history, struggle credentials and such like. There is a need to start looking at measures beyond the few common ones in order to strengthen the party leadership, as well as grooming a new crop with strict measurables for how one gets into the throne in the party.”
The former minister of mines and energy, therefore contends that, a good leader should be visionary and able to inspire, while also being strategic and a critical thinker.
“A good leader is authentic and self-aware, and must be responsible and dependable, in the same vein be open minded and decisive on crucial matters, wellbeing, direction and growth of the party. In addition, a good leader must practice cross-cultural communication especially for a society such as ours, and must also be democratic and transformational,” reiterated the 56-year-old politician.
In the race of the VP, there is a colleague-subordinate challenge between Swapo incumbent VP Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, battling it out with a her senior in government, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongwelwa-Amadhila. In that race there is Environment, Forestry and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta. With the SG position, it is going to be a re-rematch between former contestants, incumbent Sophia Shaningwa and Oshikoto Swapo regional coordinator Armas Amukwiyu, who lost in 2017 during the six national party congress. In the deputy SG race are Uahekua Herunga, David Hamutenya, Evelyn Nawatises-Taeyele and Lucia Witbooi.
Kandjoze is of the view that the November 2022 congress is profoundly a different event in the political history of the Swapo Party when compared to the many other six preceding congresses in an independent Namibia 32 years later. “So much has changed both demographically, developmentally, economically, educationally while the Swapo Party membership, supporter and sympathiser profiles in the demographic make-up has evolved. Although, the upcoming congress is happening among a variety of challenges.”
Asked whether age and ethnicity are issues, Kandjoze said, “in our political dispensation there is a growing discontent for certain age categories than others. Increasingly there is a call for younger age categories than older ones. More than three decades ago, the expectations are yielding towards change and that drive for change is more pronounced in the younger population categories, predominantly driven by increasing political participation of the young”.
He went on to say, “this development is akin to the rest of the continent and has been, for the longest time, and I believe if justified change should be constant. The former President of Mozambique and staunch revolutionary cde Samora Machel, said and I quote ‘For the nation to live, the tribe must die”. This quote is a fundamental teaching to any nation bedevilled by tribal developments which intrinsically are a cancer. This quote profoundly underscores my take and conviction on the issue of ethnicity,” he stated. He in the same vein unpacked the campaign strategies and the entire landscape, to which he said, there is a fair and levelled ground to compete, however describing the atmosphere as engulfed by a high pitched fever, as candidates try tooth and nail to topple each other.
“I believe that in a democratic dispensation such as ours, level playing goes field without saying and the Party and Country has done pre-independence, after and now. Providing democracy is what we are known for as a Party and no one in this country has done such, better than we ever did,” boasted Kandjoze, while admitting challenges do exist.
“Of course challenges remain and where challenges have reared their ugly heads, the same has been dealt with to redress such. In addition, I must admit that recent developments on the social media leading to the Swapo Party 7th Congress is in direct contradiction to the rules and regulations governing the conduct of the campaign by the various contesting candidates. These are raising serious eyebrows and deep concerns as it pertains to the guarding of party unity and the environment within which this Congress may take place. I am concerned!” said Kandjoze.
“The expectations of the contestants in my opinion are fever pitch high and this in itself may jeopardise the conduct of the Congress. Surely, I hope that leading to the event all the hype and energy will tone down to allow for unity to foster a spirit of One Party a healthy competition,” he added.
He therefore advised that, the Party ideology in a modern day and independent Namibia must take an introspection on some of these fundamentals in terms of ethical ideals, its principles and doctrines while maintaining the lead, and in the same vein provide an explanation to society of what is expected.
“This should be done while providing a political and cultural blueprint in shaping a preferred social order. The 7th Congress is taking place under such daunting Political Ideological challenges,” he remarked, citing that the main challenges are the changing dynamics demographically, socially, as well as the regional and global geopolitics, which is now testing the party ideologies as there is an upsurge in the formation of political parties.
Kandjoze added that, Swapo is now unequivocally called to act out of its usual comfort zone, norms and practices if it is to evolve and modernise in-line with its more than three decades rule, which is necessary by taking into account the near impeccable record, despite the recent challenges of disunity and division.
“I believe that the upcoming Congress is slated against these enormous challenges and political and ideological soul searching of the Swapo Party and those, like myself, that aspire the opportunity to be elected amongst those contesting. The dynamics are deep, real and yearning attention in redefining the leadership type and quality of those contesting,” he concluded.