Swapo veterans want 12 May movement revived

Erasmus Shalihaxwe

Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, the former minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, and Swapo stalwart, says she wishes those in charge of the ruling Swapo party and the government could revive the 12 May Movement.

Iivula-Ithana said this during an interview with the Windhoek Observer on Monday, a day after founding President Sam Nujoma celebrated his 95th birthday.

She said she doesn’t understand why the 12 May Movement has been discontinued or why it has not taken place for the past few years.

‘’I didn’t hear any reason why it has stopped, when I was Swapo’s Secretary General, it used to be organised by the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL). But over the past few years, I didn’t see nor hear any activities taking place, maybe those in charge can tell us,’’ she said.

The SPYL initiated the 12 May movement in 2009 during the Presidential and National Assembly elections, when those born in 1990 became eligible voters.

At its birth, the then-league secretary general, Elijah Ngurare explained that it was difficult to convince the born-frees with stories of the liberation struggle because they knew nothing about the tales of Caspirs or fighting in the bush.

“At the centre of this strategy was Sam Nujoma. We enticed these young voters by evoking the nationalistic sacrifices made by Sam Nujoma and others. We made the campaign funky and cool. The message resonated and found fertile ground. This is how the 12 May Movement idea was born,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Nahas Angula, who is also the chairperson of the Sam Nujoma Foundation, confirmed that the 12 May Movement is the brainchild of the party’s youth league, and they should know better why the day is no longer taking place.

‘’We used to look forward to that, but now we don’t know what happened. The foundation is busy organising a public celebration, and we will inform the public of the date in due course,’’ said Angula.

SPYL’s Secretary General, Efraim Nekongo said during a central committee meeting a few years ago that it was agreed that Swapo and the government would be responsible for organising the event going forward.

‘’This was even done before I became SPYL secretary general. I don’t know why it has not taken place for the past few years. Maybe the Swapo secretary general and the Prime Minister know why there have not been any activities taking place,’’ he said.

Swapo spokesperson Hilma Nikanor referred the questions to the party’s director of administration, Frans Kaudinge, who was not reachable.

A few years ago, the celebration took place at Nujoma’s farm at Etunda, near Otjiwarongo.

The day was used to raise funds for the Etunda Project school, which is meant to cater for farm workers and children in the vicinity, as well as a clinic.

Last year, Nujoma’s birthday was held at Etunda village in the Omusati region and was attended by over 3,000 guests.

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