The Namibian (Windhoek)

12 December 2012

Namibia: COD Accuses Swapo of Tribal Divisiveness

HAGE Geingob’s election as Swapo Party’s vice president – and thus the party’s presidential candidate in the 2014 general election – is a hoax and not addressing pervasive tribalism in the party, said Congress of Democrats (CoD) president Ben Ulenga.

“The irony of Geingob’s election is that he will preside over Swapo which is tribally based and tribally biased. The Swapo Party will use Geingob as a cover-up to claim that it is a nationally represented party,” Ulenga said yesterday. “His election is misleading people because the Ovambo bias is not addressed.”

Geingob emerged as the favoured presidential candidate at the Swapo Party congress that ended on December 2. He is the first non-Oshiwambo-speaking person in that position since independence.

When former Youth Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo, in the early stages of the Swapo vice-presidential race, said it was time for a non-Oshiwambo-speaking candidate, he was castigated as a tribalist.

But pundits said it was a clear indication that the party lived in denial over its true character, and refused to address and discuss the tribal matter in an open and transparent manner.

Ulenga said the current Swapo Party leadership had “tribalised and Ovambodised” the entire war of liberation against colonialism.

“Everything is seen from a tribal viewpoint. There is so much emphasis on the contract labour system while so many other issues are being forgotten. Issues like the extermination of the Nama, Herero and many others are being ignored. In the minds of the Swapo leadership, the struggle was against white subjugation of blacks in the contract labour system, that the oppression was only that of Ovambos and Boers. In the eyes of Swapo, others were not oppressed,” Ulenga said.

The CoD last week said the Swapo Party had “a tendency” to deal with various communities “on an individual segregated level, which has been a source of much disunity, tribal discrimination and hostility”.

It criticised the N$60 000 which is again earmarked for former People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (Plan) fighters, while not addressing the plight of those communities affected by the German colonial extermination exercise, “those who have permanently lost land and those who have been languishing in a concentration camp called Gam for 22 years after several generations of exile in Botswana.

“While we have nothing against financial assistance given to the old fighters, we condemn vehemently the discrimination against other Namibian communities adversely affected by colonialism and apartheid oppression and dispossession,” the CoD stated.

Furthermore, the CoD condemned the Swapo Party government’s “blatant political distinction” between the so-called ‘struggle kids’ and other Namibian youths, a distinction it said was causing immeasurable desperation among youth “who do not have the privilege to have been born in exile”.

“Unfortunately, these ‘children of the struggle’ happened to be from one language group only,” the CoD said.

“It must be pointed out that the Swapo Party government has refused so far to support the legitimate search for redress by the relevant Namibian communities against the (imperialist) German government for various crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Nama, Herero and San Bushmen communities. The Swapo government has over the years proved to be totally unmoved and unwilling to be associated with this worthy project that seeks redress in terms of reparations. Restoration and restitution of dignity, humanity and property to those who had been robbed of their lives, property, and their human dignity,” the CoD said.

It also said the government was dealing with land, resettlement and land use in an ethnic and tribal manner, where on the one hand communal land is tribally managed and allocated, while private commercial farms are redistributed among the ruling elite.

“A chief from Kavango can be resettled in Otjozondjupa or Hardap or Karas, but a poor landless person from Karas cannot be resettled in Oshana or Caprivi,” the CoD criticised.

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