Mbumba says 'it’s cold outside Swapo’

17 April 2015 | Politics

As Namibia’s ruling party prepares to celebrate its 55th birthday tomorrow, secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba says if there is one thing they have learnt over the years, it is that it is cold outside Swapo. He said this was evident by all the breakaway parties that had been formed and decimated, while Swapo continues to dominate. “One lesson we have learned is that those who have broken away from the mother party, those who thought they can be leaders outside Swapo, those who thought they are important and bigger than Swapo, have learned a lesson,” a confident Mbumba said. “They have not been able to diminish the stature… of Swapo. That is a big a lesson for anyone who is going to try those routes.” Post-independence, two groupings have broken away from Swapo. Ben Ulenga started the Congress of Democrats (CoD) in 1999 and Hidipo Hamutenya formed the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) in 2007. “In the first place, democracy means people campaign, people speak their mind and we can differ in terms of our views and philosophy, but one thing we cannot afford is to create havoc within our own society,” Mbumba said. Political commentator Phanuel Kaapama advised that it was too early for Swapo to blow its own horn, as even giants are brought to their knees. “Only time will tell. We have seen giants fall like the Kenya African Union, which was defeated by the opposition National Rainbow Coalition (NARC),” Kaapama explained. “KAU was thriving on a divided opposition. Swapo’s strength lays partly in a divided opposition.” Kaapama said although Namibia faces socio-economic challenges, such unemployment, poverty and other ills, these have not reached very alarming proportions as yet. He said many ruling parties are forced out of power when they fail to address these social challenges, and although Swapo has not completely alleviated them here in Namibia, they are not as severe as in other countries. “Swapo’s strength depends on the hungry, the angry and poverty-stricken who continue to support it, despite their challenges.” Mbumba also said Swapo has managed a successful transition from a liberation movement to political party. “We have the same leaders we had during the liberation struggle. We had Swapo’s first president Sam Nujoma, who became the country’s founding president, and the country’s second president Hifikepunye Pohamba was also with him during exile. And now we have Hage Geingob as president. We have all of them still with us.” Kaapama said he was impressed by the manner in which the ruling conducts its intraparty democracy and election processes, and the contestation for positions. “During the contestation process we have seen major figures fall and other major figures rise, as well unknown figures also coming to light. But as far as policy debates are concerned, I think Swapo has a lot of room for improvement. We are yet to see a serious debate on various ideologies and policies at its congresses.” For its 55th birthday tomorrow in Oshakati, Pohamba, Geingob and Nujoma are expected to address the crowd, while liberation icon Andimba Toivo ya Toivo will also grace the gathering. No foreign dignitaries have been invited to attend the event. WINDHOEK ELVIS MURARANGANDA

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