When Swapo sneezes…

27 June 2019 | Columns

There is a popular saying that when Swapo sneezes the whole country catches a cold. The maxim holds meaning when it comes to a number of contemporary issues affecting Namibians, and Swapo cannot dodge responsibility, as it was elected by an overwhelming majority in 2014.

This week Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Ephraim Nekongo finally came out of his cocoon, only to complain that the country's independent media is biased. Nekongo, who is usually conservative in his media statements, lashed out at journalists and editors, accusing them of conniving with “anti-Swapo formations” to distort facts about the ruling party.

The outburst was seemingly provoked by the public outrage flowing from the new state-of-the-art N$730 million new Swapo headquarters, which is to be constructed by a Chinese firm.

This comes amid reservations by the local construction industry that the tender was too big a financial risk for them. It can even be cynically argued that it was crafted in such a way to exclude local companies who are in desperate need of contracts so that they can retain much-needed jobs.

Oddly, the ruling elite appear to view the outrage associated with the Swapo headquarters as some kind of attack on the party and its leaders.

The issue here is that the ruling party is prioritising pomp and luxury at the expense of its downtrodden members, who are sitting at home without work opportunities.

It makes absolutely no sense for the ruling party to splurge N$730 million in the face of rampant poverty and joblessness.

In fact, the headquarters may very well become a symbol of how the party is losing touch with its poverty-stricken support base.

We would also like to remind Nekongo that “imperialist” is often the final fig leaf for those who want to defend the indefensible.

We can no longer have so-called leaders buckling under the weight of their own big heads, and operating institutions with a non-existent value system.

Build your headquarters, but don't attack the media for doing its job.