1 December 2017

Namibia: Lessons From the 6th Swapo Congress

Over the last five months, very little in the life of the Republic mattered more than the significance of the Swapo Congress of this year--an event which generated so much about the good, the bad and the ugly about our body politic.

For very good reasons the nation was put on pause as it had to wait for the outcome of the selected men and women in the Swapo Party who were to serve as electors of the new leaders, almost like the conclave of the Vatican when plunged into action to select the new pope.

Unlike with the conclave, there was no solemnity and piety with the elective congress - there was rancour and great acrimony in the months, weeks, days and hours waiting for the white smoke and the bells to toll with the announcement: Habemus Papam! (We have a pope).

The experiences we gained from this momentous election and what preceded it are worth paying attention to, while our feelings, both positive and negative, are fresh. Even the neutral feelings of draadsitters, (as daar nog draad oor is) are important, as they all constitute the narrative of where we are today as a nation in our vast diversity in different ways.

In other words one does not have to be a die-hard or opportunistically self-declared Swapo member in party hat, shirt, pants or skirt, underwear and shoes to appreciate that Swapo is Namibia and Namibia is Swapo in more ways than some would like to admit.

This is a fact as solid as Afrika is accepted to be the cradle of humankind, even by the worst racist supremacists, who resent the idea of being associated that they were one Afrikans, and therefore perhaps black.

It goes without saying that what happened in Swapo affects all of us, and it is our duty to appreciate and respect the outcomes of the last congress as significant to us all. It is therefore both important and necessary for us as informed citizens of the Republic to ask ourselves: What are the lessons we have learned?

Before naming some of the questions, we need to accept some fundamentals, namely: First, both contending camps, Team Swapo and Team Harambee internalise that something important had happened, the outcome of which we must all accept, just as the electors themselves did, and regardless of how we might have been disappointed, hurt and humiliated.

Second, we were all wrong in our predictions based on our own preferred outcomes. Both the doomsayers of Team Harambee, as well as the proponents of sole candidacy were wrong in wishing each other away.

This is illustrated by the fact that those of us who prophesied doom for Team Harambee have to eat a humble pie, as we were smashed nicely and taught how wrong we were in either that we did not know what type of smart and sophisticated politician Hage is or did not understand our own society at all, and therefore could not read the signs or the time correctly.

Those who hated Team Swapo were equally wrong, as evidenced by their insecurity and desperation such that they behaved in ways that were so grossly at variance with the norms of democratic elections, and forgot that the right to vote is both sacred and secret, such that the way they went about making sure that they won left the election result challengeable, in accordance with the constitutions of both the Swapo Party and the Republic.

Thanks to the leaders who contested directly and indirectly that we got over this huddle intact--the party is still one and there is no strife in the land. We are all still here and must make room for one another as if what we did and said did not happen for the sake of the future of this only land we call ours. Like the president said, Swapo won, not the individuals.

Third, as patriotic citizens committed to the values we cherish, those of peace and stability, we are bound to accept and respect the outcome of the elections as it was by the electors and commit our support to the winners as our leaders who need all that we can bring to make them succeed in taking this fragile nation forward.

Instead of valorising or vilifying the winners or losers from this congress, it is both necessary and important that we do some introspection and discern what/where we did right and/or wrong for purposes of becoming better citizens and in relation to one another as we continue to do our best to make this country a better place for all.

Namibia

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