Namibia: Swapo Manifesto 'Half-Baked'

THE dust around the mysterious Swapo party's 2019 election manifesto is refusing to settle, after it emerged that the party launched an unapproved document at the weekend.

A party manifesto is a social contract between the political party and the voters as it contains the party's promises to the electorate if elected into power.

The Namibian has learnt that president Hage Geingob launched a party manifesto that was incomplete, a document not endorsed by the party's central committee (CC).

Sources within the party said the CC laid its eyes on the manifesto for the first time on Friday night at a meeting held at Outapi, hours before it was to be launched the following day.

Central committee members allegedly raised objections and called for amendments to be made. The CC then agreed to reject the manifesto pending the addition of the recommended changes. At that point, the manifesto launch was just hours away, forcing Geingob to officiate over a draft document.

At Saturday's event, Geingob used the draft document which was also provided to the media.

Even the printing of the manifesto attracted controversy with party leaders asking why the think tank had circumvented the party's information department.

The Namibian understands that only 200 copies of the rejected manifesto were printed last week. The copies were allegedly meant for the launch event on Saturday only.

There are also talks that Namprint has been sidelined from printing the final manifesto, since a private company was contracted for the job when the final document is ready.

One of the terms, however, is that the contracted company should print with Namprint.

Speculation is also rife that a consultant was used to compile the manifesto and not the Swapo think tank. This was attributed to alleged factional infighting within the think tank, with key players to the formulation of the manifesto allegedly walking out of the process in protest.

Swapo think tank chairperson and executive director in the Presidency Grace Uushona yesterday refused to comment on the party manifesto and referred questions to Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa.

Yesterday, the ruling party's Twitter account announced that the manifesto "will be available electronically within this week. We will send the link on Twitter as well".

Calls to Shaningwa, party spokesperson Hilma Nicanor and party vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah went unanswered.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah yesterday said the decision to launch an incomplete manifesto is a sign of the ruling party's limited planning abilities.

"It is unheard of for a ruling party to launch an incomplete manifesto. That is a promise document and voters will vote for the party based on what the party promises. What then if the final document does not contain the promises made last weekend?" he questioned.

Kamwanyah said the fact that the party launched a document that is up for amendment after its launch is tantamount to dishonesty.

He also commented on the central committee's lack of input in the manifesto.

"You expect better from a ruling party, not a situation whereby the highest decision making body in the party is not afforded an opportunity to vet the document before it is produced. By making input, I am not referring to last Friday's meeting whereby the CC was used to rubber-stamp the manifesto," he said.

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