Ngurare can be to Swapo be what Moses was to the Israelites (Part 2)

23 September 2021 | Opinion

ASSER NTINDA

To say that Geingob is going to next year’s congress a deeply wounded man is an understatement. The Fishrot corruption scandal has figuratively skinned him alive. His blue-eyed boy whom he wanted to push through as Swapo vice-president at next year’s congress, Benard Esau, is languishing in jail waiting for his day in court over the Fishrot scandal.

Whether Geingob still has enough power to influence the outcome of the congress next year remains to be seen. In recent years however, he was surprisingly seen leaning on now disgraced former defence minister, Peter Vilho. Many observers were wondering why.

Plans were apparently afoot to amend the constitution of Swapo to exempt Vilho from its requirements and push him through as vice-president at next year’s congress as a “long-serving Swapo cadre and comrade.”

The constitution dictates that for a person to stand as a candidate for the top four positions, such a person must have served as a member of the Politburo and the Central Committee of Swapo for ten uninterrupted years. Vilho didn’t meet those requirements.

But, like his mentor Geingob, Vilho was so confident the plan would go through that arrogance took over the better part of his brain and statue. Suddenly, he was bossy and jumpy to the annoyance of many in the leadership, in the process repackaging himself as an intellectual of some sort to show he was the best in the pack.

But every move Geingob makes these days is always looked at with a scandal in the background. Something must always be fishy. His sudden love for Vilho was no exception. Sure enough, the sun did not set and Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda tracked Vilho’s footprints to a secret account in Hong Kong, stashed with millions of dollars he could not explain how he got them.

How a soldier with no business became a millionaire puzzled many people. In the end Vilho fell on his sword of arrogance and resigned a disgraced military man, leaving Geingob in limbo, scrambling, once again, on who should succeed him. He is, however, racing against time. With the Fishrot scandal still hovering on the horizon like a fireball, rumours of a third term may therefore not be farfetched.

Who becomes Swapo’s vice-president next year will determine whether Swapo will shine or fall during the 2024 presidential and National Assembly elections. Swapo members and leaders have a daunting task and tough balancing act to execute. Moral values, not money, should inform and guide delegates on how best to save Swapo from being relegated to the periphery of politics in this country. Ignoring this reality will be too costly a mistake to make.

Swapo must be saved. A priceless heritage hangs on Swapo for it to just disappear like that. But doing so is also a toll order. The odds are formidably stuck against such undertakings. For posterity purposes, however, and to preserve the little pieces that may one day resemble Swapo, relentless efforts must be made at every turn to save this priceless institutional memory from permanently receding into history.

This is as herculean a task as trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Before the 2017 congress, whenever Swapo sneezed, all opposition parties caught flu. That contagious presence has paled into thin air. Opposition parties, old and new, have developed herd immunity from Swapo's once feared dominance. Past elections are cases in point.

The future looks gloomy now, both for Swapo and Team Harambee. Geingob’s head is most likely spinning in dismay and disbelief. He is always angry and bitter, like King Lear in Shakespeare’s drama series.

Who succeeds Geingob to save Swapo should not entirely be left to Geingob alone to dictate. Geingob apparently once blinked on environment and wildlife minister Pohamba Shifeta as his heir apparent. But the Kora Awards scandal slipped through his hands. It counts heavily against him.

Namibia's political landscape has drastically changed against Swapo. The party must find someone not decorated with both the Fishrot scandal and the 2017 Harambee menace, if it is to survive after the 2024 presidential and National Assembly elections.

Swapo must sit back, swallow pride and pick Dr Ngurare. With cracks now emerging in Team Harambee, many people have now come to realize that all the mud for years thrown at Ngurare were meant to chase him away from the High Table. Those with presidential ambitions feared him. The sooner he was out of the way, the better their chances.

His expulsion from Swapo in 2015 was sorely informed by that fear. But Ngurare’s only crime was that he had his hands deep in the formation of the 12 May Movement, which was sorely formed to inspire pioneers and the youth to emulate the exemplary leadership and lifestyle of Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma.

If plans were there to amend the constitution to wheelbarrow Vilho into the leadership, the same must now be mobilised to bring back Ngurare in. He had already served as a Central Committee member for more than ten years anyway

After all, his expulsion was declared illegal by the High Court, which also ordered his immediate reinstatement. The same speed and enthusiasm which were used to amend the constitution to insert a provision to expel Swapo members who had registered and stood as independent candidates must be used to effect such amendments for Ngurare. If Vilho, too, was going to be pushed through by amending the Swapo Constitution, it must be done for Ngurare. That is, if the current Swapo leadership wants to make opposition parties, both new and old, irrelevant.

Therefore, in the pack of aspiring presidential candidates that Swapo can field, Ngurare is the only one who can revive Swapo, speak not only to the youth but at them as well, and bring back the youth who might have left Swapo in droves because of corruption and mediocrity in leadership. The youth still listen whenever Ngurare speaks.

To cut a long story short, delegates at next year’s Swapo congress face two stark choices – to sink or swim to the shore and live to tell succeeding generations how you saved Swapo from the jaws of a monster. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. This is your date with destiny, your rendezvous with history. Time will tell.

· Asser Ntinda is the former editor of Namibia Today, Swapo’s official newspaper. He edited the paper for 20 years.

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