Stealing the presidency to destroy the nation
By Brian Xamseb
NEVER since the watershed Independence Elections in 1989, won by SWAPO conclusively, despite colonial efforts to keep Namibia a divided and conquered apartheid State of tribal Bantustan communities, have Namibians face a similar serious tribal threat with the potential to incite genocidal urges similar to Rwanda and Burundi genocide levels, as with the oncoming November 27, elections.
Namibia’s Founding pre-independence generation from all walks of life e.g. individuals, tribes, communities, villages, towns and cities from all Namibia’s 14 regions, patriotically chose in 1989, to reject the tribal Bantustan concept and 3rd rate citizenship which the South African minority apartheid government was offering as an ideal lifestyle through massive disinformation propaganda via then SWABC (now NBC) TV and radio, Die Republikein newspaper and others.
However, having suffered for over 107 under German and South African colonialism, the majority of sober minded and patriotic Namibians did not hesitate to vote SWAPO (with 57.33%) and for its vision of a One Namibia, One Nation, liberty, equality, justice, freedom and development. It is within this context that SWAPO came to be considered as the rightful heirs of the “Namibian independence fire” started by the Witboois, Mahareros, Goresebs, Simbwayes, and others from all over Namibia during different formation stages of Namibia’s nation building.
As such the mantle of post-independence leadership fell on SWAPO which was bestowed the historical mandate of forging among all Namibians the spirit and letter of a One Nation, One Namibia ideology; a united, stable, prosperous and peaceful Namibia to which all the people belong as equal citizens, with equal rights, having equal access to all opportunities in the private sphere, economic and public sectors. And most importantly, a Namibia in which every person is free from the yoke of apartheid and its twin brother, named tribalism.
The mandate given since 1989 to the SWAPO Party and its President was never to promote a project of “jobs for comrades”, or to label fellow Namibians as hibernators, and propagating a skewed ahistorical understanding of the Namibian national character as being deduced to being a San, Tswana, Herero, Damara, Nama, Oshiwambo, Zambezian, Kavango, or White. That vision belonged to apartheid South Africa, which historically entrusted DTA to promote apartheid and tribalism.
This would explains the rationale today for Die Republikeinse Party and PDM to support a candidate such as Dr.Panduleni Itula over a steady hand, sound mind, and proven nationalist such as Dr Hage Geingob for the country’s Presidency in the November 27, elections.
The Rise of the Executive Tribe Syndrome
During the era of Namibia’s Liberation Struggle, particularly in the internal SWAPO wing which consisted of the Party apparatus, the churches (Council of Churches), workers (NUNW) and students (NANSO), a truly camaraderie atmosphere, and logic that we are first Namibians before the tribe, and are all, under oppression, yet equally fighting as comrades for the objective of our total liberation from apartheid colonial domination reigned supreme throughout the 60s, 70s and 80s. This unfeigned and genuine camaraderie was SWAPO’s main quality that made it outstandingly different with unquestionable nationalist credentials from all other Parties in Namibia. SWAPO’s unity of purpose was accompanied by a remarkable revolutionary fervor grounded in solid patriotism and solidarity that was totally devoid of any sentiments of toxic tribal affinity and superiority.
However, following independence on March 21, 1990, the signs of tribal interests based politics started to emerge as early as in 1992 when some Comrades started to mobilize against the candidature of the then Prime Minister, Dr. Hage Geingob, for the post of the Vice President of SWAPO. In 1992, Dr. Geingob, was already the anointed heir of Dr. Nujoma, to continue with the SWAPO Party vision of a strong, united, peaceful and prosperous Namibia. The reason being that Dr. Geingob was deeply held in high esteem as a leading thinker, innovator and very courageous SWAPO member of longstanding, with an immaculate track record of delivery on assignments and thus the ideal candidate to continue the SWAPO legacy of nation building. However, some Comrades led by a politically very strong and scheming group (at the time referred to as the Kwanyama group) successfully lobbied against it, and had their candidate the late Hendrik Witbooi ascended to the VP vacancy. Afterward it descended into a deliberate campaign of disinformation and character assassination by the same group, until he was relieved in 2002 of his Prime Ministerial duties, and went on to serve as the Chief Executive of the Global Coalition for Africa (Washington DC, 2003-2004. Shortly afterwards his long time friend and at times political rival, the equally astute and competent late Hidipo Hamutenya just four days before the 2004 SWAPO Extra-ordinary Congress to choose the Party’s Presidential Candidate and Vice President was dismissed from his ministerial post. This led to HH’s exodus with a majority Kwayama speaking group to establish the ill-fated Rally for Democracy (RDP) that was dethroned by the DTA in 2014, as the official opposition. As per his own coinage, the founder of RDP, returned to his rightful home the SWAPO Party on August 28, 2015, and was warmly received at Statehouse by his old friend Dr. Geingob, who upon death accorded him a Heroes Funeral.
Some say the motivation that informed the ill-fated move to the RDP was in part due to professional competition among peers. However, others opine that among the followers, the tribal element played a key role as many of the group’s proponents felt that they were robbed of an opportunity in SWAPO to rule the country, since they being the largest single tribe in the country were entitled to such God-given leadership. There was among the group a misplaced herd mentality reasoning that smaller tribes were ruling over the biggest tribe while it was supposed to be the other way around, since through their numbers they contributed the most especially by availing many Kwanyama fighters to PLAN. Hence, the need to rectify the leadership anomaly by reclaiming the biggest share of the ownership of Namibia which in their view had been illegitimately appropriated by smaller tribes within the SWAPO Party, specifically those of the Ongandjera descent.
This narration of the walk out from SWAPO by veteran members to establish the RDP proves that a wrong understanding of SWAPO as meant for a specific tribe and not the entire Namibia will always result in uncalled for self-inflicted harm to such a group. The graduation of Owamboland Peoples Organization, OPO (1959) to the South West Africa Peoples Organization, SWAPO (1960) is the reason why SWAPO members should never try to hijack its nationalist cause for tribal interests, and is instructive in view of the similar tribal trend that emerged since 2012 and has now culminated in the independent candidate Itula and his hordes of near fanatical tribal youth supporters who claim SWAPO membership affiliation, while challenging SWAPO values and norms.
The Omusati Connection – seeds of bitterness
At the 2007 SWAPO Congress, where President Geingob became the Vice President of SWAPO, Cde Jerry Ekandjo, who was arguably the most popular SWAPO cadre at that point (395 highest votes in the 2002 SWAPO Congress), wanted to compete against him. However, some claimed that he was instructed by the Founding President to stand down, and did likewise. In 2012, Cde Ekandjo decided not to withdraw but pit his popularity against that of Dr. Geingob. Similarly, Dr. Geingob’s erstwhile good friend and protégé Cde Pendukeni Ithana also in a moment of bad decision-making threw down the gauntlet to her political mentor for the VP position and to become the Presidential Candidate of the SWAPO Party for the 2014 National Elections. At the time, Dr. Elijah Ngurare, the former SPYL Secretary-General who first supported Dr. Geingob in 2007 under the rubric of “guided democracy” now shifted allegiance to his two opponents. He was aided in the process by a very over-eager political green horn in the form of the SPYL Secretary for information, young Cde Job Amupanda, who beforehand started to address Cde Ekandjo as “the President” and also made outrageous statements of assassination attempts. With the backing of President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Dr Geingob proved too lethal at the Fifth SWAPO Congress on November 29- December 2, 2019. The Pohamba-Geingob slate witnessed Geingob (312 votes) prevailing against Cde Ekandjo (220) and Cde Ithana (64). Unbelievably, for senior cadres acquainted with the national credentials of SWAPO the Omusati connection under Cde Ekandjo had fielded exclusively only Oshiwambo speaking candidates for the `VP, Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General positions, all men, and all of them lost.
The Omusati connection lost among others due to their openly tribal and sexist line up, the blunders of the SPYL to field retired NDF and ex-Plan generals to the Congress, and for labeling others as cockroaches, capitalists and kwankala. However, instead of learning valuable lessons from their defeat that SWAPO is a nationalist Party and the cradle of progressive Namibian though, the same group dynamics were enacted by the same actors of the Omusati connection at the 2017 Sixth SWAPO Congress, with ill-faded humiliating consequences.
Omusati Connection Reloaded – 2017, 6th Congress
At this juncture, the former SPYL opponents of President Geingob where now joined by a group of funders infamously known as “The Masalad/boys”, the likes of Petrus Nevonga, the Secretary General of NAPWU, and many veteran ministers who did not make it to the 2015 Cabinet of Dr. Geingob. They formed team SWAPO with the aim to wrest the SWAPO ~Party Presidency from the incumbent, Dr. Geingob. This was an unheard off occurrence in the history of the SWAPO for the incumbent President to be challenged. Not having learned, or simply too much tribally ingrained the challengers campaigned appealing to tribal ties between themselves and the delegates to the 6th Extra –Ordinary Congress of 2017- a fatal mistake. More-over, they strangely having been part and parcel as senior SWAPO leaders of Government since independence, started to distanced themselves from their own handiwork, and heap all the problems accrued from the decisions taken over the years onto President Geingob. They blamed him for bad leadership, drought, and for the economic recession as being the sole cause thereof, and called on voters to vote him out of office. They were funded by a group of young indigenous businessmen (Kings of Government tenders or in short tenderpreneurs) who in 2012 supported President Geingob’s bid, but since then fell-out of favor with him, when he stopped them in their tracks of “wanting to grab” the lucrative Angolan Oil and other tenders. These funders have ever since taken a vow not to stop until the day that they remove Dr. Geingob from the office and install a President who will allow them to access Government tenders at will on a grand-scale.
Unfortunately the group’s blame game, and tribally based campaigning backfired and they were literally for all purposes and intents profoundly humbled and politically schooled, in the model of inclusivity, peace and prosperity for all which most Namibians regardless of their tribe, class, religion or gender want to see in Namibia. They did not lose but were mercilessly trounced as follows: Dr. Geingob, 574 votes, Cde Ekandjo 153 and Cde Nahas Angula 39. Again, their purely Oshiwambo line up slate was rejected by the Congress voters (a majority being Oshiwambo speaking) and they did not win a single portfolio. However, instead of having learned the bitter lessons of life that tribalism and professional jealousy, bitterness and vengeance are not rewarding investments for their health, and accepting their fate as honorable Comrades who have the well-being of the SWAPO Party and the country at heart, they foolhardily embarked on another foolish challenge to President Geingob, this time at the national level, Team SWAPO reloaded for the 2019 elections.
Continues in the next edition