22 March 2018

Namibia: Seibeb Takes Swipe At Shanghala

The Landless People's Movement (LPM) has taken issue with justice minister Sacky Shanghala for labelling the movement a "tribal party".

Addressing the //Karas Swapo Party regional executive meeting at Keetmanshoop two weeks back, the minister asserted that no new political party would emerge from within Swapo, and that the Landless People's Movement, which he claimed focused on "tribal and other issues, was not coming from Swapo".

He also said opposition parties, such as the Congress of Democrats (CoD) and the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) formed by Swapo defectors, have learnt their lesson, and that agents provocateurs in Swapo colours can no longer form new opposition political parties.

LPM deputy leader Henny Seibeb said in a statement issued this week that Shanghala's claims and criticisms are cheap propaganda, and noted that his attempts to plaster over cracks in Swapo reflected an inability to recognise setbacks.

He described the burning of T-shirts and caps depicting President Hage Geingob's face at Keetmanshoop last year by Swapo members as well as Shanghala's removal from the attorney general position last month, over perceptions of alleged corruption, as setbacks for the ruling party.

The burning of Swapo regalia last year followed the dismissal of former Swapo parliamentarian and deputy minister of land reform Bernadus Swartbooi, who is now the leader of the LPM.

"If a survey is carried out today to determine who is perceived to be the most corrupt and unpopular Cabinet minister, it is no doubt that Sakeus Shanghala would top the list," Seibeb charged.

Seibeb also claimed that the LPM made history, as it was apparently the first time in Namibia that protests in Windhoek, at Walvis Bay and Keetmanshoop in solidarity with Swartbooi for talking truth to power, were held.

"Normally, deputy ministerial appointments are regarded as useless titles adding no value. This has never happened before," he said, adding that the movement posed the first real threat to Swapo.

The LPM deputy leader hinted that the movement would contest the 2019 presidential and national elections, and that the LPM would be well-represented in parliament after 2019, causing major harm to Swapo's two-thirds majority, and ushering in "radical politics for a radical programme of change".

Seibeb said the LPM would appoint its own governors and regional chairpersons in the regions where it would win elections.

He also warned what he termed "agents corrupteers" in Swapo, masquerading as Cabinet ministers, that the days of Swapo defining opposition politics were over as the LPM was set to take over the political landscape.

"Just to demystify Shanghala's tribal lenses, Swapo is the biggest ethnic enterprise in Namibia. Its original name was Ovamboland People's Organisation (OPO)," he stressed.

"Are we to opine that when Andimba Toivo ya Toivo conceptualised and in fact referred to OPO that he never thought of including the rest of Namibia in his imagined party? Again, when it was renamed from OPO to Ovamboland People's Congress (OPC), it still retained a tribal character. Is it what makes the likes of Shanghala hold the view that only himself and his sort belong in Swapo?" Seibeb asked.

He said there were intense tribal discussions in the Swapo politburo in the past, especially when a non-Oshiwambo speaking president was mooted by those favouring Geingob.

Seibeb added that he would reveal the details of such discussions in his memoirs.

He said Geingob had also successfully used "tribal politics" against his opponents for the ruling party's presidency ahead of and during the Swapo congress of November last year, referring to them as OPO candidates. "It is patronising to characterise fellow Namibians seeking land restitution and restorative justice as tribal in their outlook," he stated.

Seibeb thus advised Shanghala to spend his time fighting the negative perceptions that hang over him, rather than venturing into "vulgarism".

Shanghala yesterday said Seibeb was entitled to his views, but warned him not to defame others.

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