Lobbying for a Swapo Extra-Ordinary Congress

Dear Editor,

As Swapo we had a diamond in our hands and we had exchanged it for a stone. If I was in an influential position within the ruling party, I would have lobbied for an Extra-Ordinary Congress .The party needs to be reformed. You cannot drive a car without taking it for mechanical service if it’s not functioning well. Even human beings need medical treatment after birth.

As we start with the New Year, let’s get down on our knees to thank God. Here’s to a bright new year and a fond farewell to the old; here’s to the things that are yet to come, and to the memories that we hold.

I hope many enjoyed the festive season. As for me I didn’t, due to the poor performance at the election polls of last year. The party is weakening. I cannot imagine being teased that we have become a rural organisation, a party which was once a powerful people’s organisation. We are in a different time and I am disturbed. On 1 September 2019 I wrote to H. E. Dr Hage G. Geingob the President of Swapo and other party leadership that we need to make urgent adjustments to our strategy for the Regional and Local Authority Elections and devise new strategies to avoid a potential routing.

I raised the issue of new organisations that would peddle on our weaknesses to try and filch the control of local authorities from the Swapo party. Just like the same way major liberation movements went through this kind of transformation, the African National Congress (ANC) has lost metros and the failure to get its house in order has proved good opportunity for the Economic Freedom Fighters to make more gains during their last election. My advice to the party leadership was that we are certainly no exception; I feared genuinely that the same may happen to us and it is exactly what transpired.

My other fear was the proliferation of independent candidates, new political parties and organisations that registered to contest the last election. Swapo is failing to field tested cadres in leadership with political credentials within the party and those with skills / technical know-how and experience. Its 30 years of governance since independence the time is now ripe for meritocracy, we must move away from the reward system.

I have been in Swapo all along and I am aware that we have fielded cadres who are way below par and we need to be candid with our ourselves and review our selection requirement in terms of credentials.

The situation is dire and will certainly fail governance if we ignore basic requirements. The other aspect I raised to the leadership was diversity in comrades that represent the party for example in local authorities. As a party we must be cognizant of the fact that towns and villages are culturally diverse. We are not NUDO, UDF, LPM that have a challenge with diversity; these are parties that have foundations on tribal constituencies. My point was that towns should be represented by cultural diversity and their history.

We cannot afford to field cadres from the same cultural or tribal groupings. We must realise that this issue should be a concern after 30 years in power. Proportional representation if it’s the basis should be based on sound statistical evidence.

What do I expect from the ruling Swapo party?  If we throw away fakeness and look at ourselves in the mirror as SWAPO, then we can diagnose the problem. The party cannot be turned into a source of one’s livelihood; we cannot belong to it in order to solve our personal economic circumstances; as doing so will invoke unsustainable competition to belong. This seems to be what has unfortunately happened to Swapo, our political home.

I am recommending for an extra-ordinary congress that will amend the constitution of the party for a number of reasons:  a new and vibrant genuine, tested, gifted or talented and capacitated leadership that will choose the interests of the party first. Inclusion must be made a policy issue to make it a priority then people will also be appointed on that basis to avoid friction. We must do away with those who view the party as a milking cow. The party is really in need of cadres who are imbued with natural intelligence to safeguard, protect and defend the organisation for it is our only heritage, our identity.

On 29 – 31 May 1976, the internal leadership of Swapo held an Extra-Ordinary Congress in Walvis Bay and it was a powerful national conference. The congress was to lay down political, social and military strategies to safeguard the wishes and aspirations of the oppressed, colonised and struggling black people.

That same congress took many decisions some of which were not made known to the Lusaka leadership. The congress took carefully into consideration the criticism of those who acquired socialist knowledge abroad; amended the old constitution of Swapo and sent it for more amendments abroad. The congress addressed itself to the ‘rebellion of 1976’ which was with the help of the Zambian Army. It also touched on the issue related to the late Dr. Jonas Savimbi of (UNITA). The other issue was to avoid further political split in SWAPO. Congress decided to reinstall President Sam Nujoma, Vice President Mishake Muyongo and the National Chairman the late David Hosea Meroro in power. Imprisoned comrades such as the late Axel Johannes and Aaron Mushimba were reelected. The same congress changed the term of office from two to five years.

Hence why shouldn’t we learn from this past experience and call for an extra-ordinary congress and make urgent amendments. The party needs to be reformed / revived. We must also do away with wolves in sheep’s clothing within the party structures. The last election was a clear testimony that the party is weakening. I have also taken cognizance of some cadres who are throwing stones at the Swapo house that they helped to build just because of greed and selfishness. Swapo is destroying itself and the benefits go to opposition parties.

Windhoek Mayor Job Amupanda is scoring the highest political points for his reactions and radical approach of pressurising the government. And he is not wrong because in his capacity of being the leader of a social movement, that is actually what is expected from him. In fact the role of social movements all over the world is to influence governments and hold them accountable. What is that the Swapo leadership doing especially those in influential positions at the party headquarters?

A week or two before the departure of my brother Mandela Kapere a Member of Parliament, he said the following to me: “Comrade Meroro, l like your political analysis, they are very grounded, level headed. It is a good skill to have, you are indeed an excellent analyst, a strategist and an asset to our party and the nation. But in today’s politics especially within the structure of our party it is a lost art. People look at politics with too much emotion instead of looking at the empirical evidence on the ground.” May his soul continue to rest in everlasting peace. He was indeed a genuine leader and a true Pan Africanist.

Wishing you all a prosperous New Year fellow Namibians.

* McDavid Meroro is a political activist