20 November 2018

Namibia: Let Us Stop Swapo's Slow Death - KK

FORMER youth minister Kazenambo Kazenambo has urged senior Swapo leaders to create platforms for dialogue to save the party from collapsing due to divisions among members.

Kazenambo said the party's leaders and those of factions who contested for positions at last year's elective congress were to blame for the current divisions in the party because they failed to create platforms for those aggrieved by the outcome of the congress to be heard.

He added that senior Swapo leaders were ignorant of the fact that the party was divided, and continuously made statements "claiming that we were united . . . they are lying".

Kazenambo, therefore, called on former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba to intervene, and call the aggrieved members to a round-table discussion to end the division they are causing in the party.

Speaking to The Namibian in an exclusive interview on Saturday, Kazenambo condemned a group which recently took the party to court in a bid to interdict the upcoming extraordinary congress later this month.

The group of four, led by former prime minister Nahas Angula's daughter, Nambata Angula, want the extraordinary congress to be delayed pending a legal challenge to the outcome of last year's elective congress that saw president Hage Geingob assume the leadership of Swapo.

According to their statement filed at the court, the four said they had sought to exercise their rights as members of the ruling party, but they had been denied that right for the past 11 months.

The extraordinary congress, scheduled for this month, is tasked to amend the party's constitution, and to discuss the report from last year's elective congress.

Although Nambata Angula did not want to comment on the case yesterday, Kazenambo said party leaders must do all they can to avoid the courts because the outcome will only deepen the existing divisions.

He added that the court case was testimony that the ruling party was suffering a slow death caused by the leadership.

The former minister added that the talks of "nobody should feel left out and nobody is excluded" being paraded by those in power was "cheap talk, and will not mean anything if people are not embracing each other".

"This organisation is suffering a slow death, and I am saying let's stop the slow death of Swapo. Let us be open and genuine to one another. Let us not pretend that we are a democratic party, and every democratic election becomes a theatre of hatred because of the way we handle differences," he stated.

According to him, those aggrieved should consider resolving their grievances through dialogue, and that leaders from both sides "must approach one another and create a platform where people can discuss this issue".

Pohamba, the former minister said, fuelled the divisions when he referred to some members "who were exercising their democratic right as Swapo B" during last year's campaigns leading up to the congress.

"Nujoma must also intervene because he is the one who created this [habit] that if people differ with you, they must be fired. They must speak openly and provide leadership because they caused this thing. This is the culture that is destroying our future.

"For the sake of Swapo, we should avoid the court case because some will get out smiling from that court, but some will come out humiliated, and you cannot expect those who are humiliated to embrace others.

"The best way is to hear people's frustration. The leadership on both sides must sit around the table and look at the grievances, and put in meaningful, realistic and genuine mechanisms for resolving the complaints," he added.

Kazenambo also called for an end to the victimisation and purging of party members because they opposed or supported a certain candidate at the congress.

"There is no unity. What unity? While they are talking about unity on the one hand, they are purging people on the other hand. People who supported Team Swapo are being victimised left, right and centre. We cannot continue pretending that we are tolerant while we are not," he stressed.

Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa yesterday declined to respond to Kazenambo's concerns.

She instead said: "I kindly request you to allow me to do justice as far as this matter is concerned, instead of creating news where I do not want the news to be created. Thank you very much."

Former Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba yesterday said Kazenambo was a leader who has all "the right to propose solutions, and to comment on issues".

Mbumba, however, said it was only those in power who can decide on what should be done.

"If you want to hear what the leadership of the party has to say, it is no longer Nangolo Mbumba in charge of Swapo. Go to the top four of the party, and you ask them because they are the only ones who can decide what should be done. My comment does not matter," he added.

Nahas Angula, who campaigned under 'Team Swapo' last year, told The Namibian yesterday that he was also worried about the future of the party, but he was not "in charge of changing things".

He said those in charge should answer why they have failed to solve the issue internally to avoid court cases.

"I have no power to unite people. I have no power to divide them either. I am just a citizen like you. Call those who claim to be in power. I can only influence the course of events when I am in charge, but when I am just a citizen sitting here in my office, what power do I have?" he asked rhetorically.

Former youth minister Jerry Ekandjo, who stood against Geingob at last year's congress, did not want to comment on Kazenambo's proposal, saying he was neither in charge of the party, nor involved in the current disputes.

"Talk to those in charge of the party. I am not involved. No, no, no, it's okay," he said.

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