Schlettwein lists Swapo’s comeback medicine

The Swapo politburo member has spoken frankly on what needs to be done for the ruling party to return to its former glory.

17 December 2020 | Politics



Swapo will regain the people’s trust when its leaders stop ‘cutting corners’ and become more honest and transparent, party politburo member Calle Schlettwein said.

The party lost its two-thirds majority in the 2019 general election and key cities in the local authority elections held last month.

Perceived corruption by members has cost Swapo dearly, but the party continues to deny this reality.

The party has not internally dealt with rife allegations of corruption, and its senior members Bernhardt Esau and Sacky Shanghala, who have been in jail for over a year over the Fishrot bribery scandal, remain members of the party’s central committee.

A politburo meeting held a fortnight ago was slated to remove the two men from the central committee and, in the case of Esau, politburo - but the party got cold feet.

While Shanghala and Esau have been removed from their government positions as ministers and members of parliament, nothing was done to deal with their alleged criminality within the party itself.

Former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa had to resign last year after she was convicted of corruption, but she remains a member of the Swapo politburo. The same is true for Tobie Aupindi, who was convicted of corruptly providing false information to an officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission.


Commenting on the party’s declining electoral performance, agriculture minister Schlettwein said Swapo has become complacent in recent years.

“We became not only complacent but we were - to a certain extent - tempted to cut corners and tempted to promise something and not deliver and then hoped to get away with it,” he said on Tuesday.

“If we focus on these three pillars - regaining trust, becoming more transparent and becoming accountable and honest - then we have hope to regain [the lost votes].”

In the 25 November regional and local authority elections, Swapo lost key urban centres including the capital Windhoek.

It also lost the two southern regions of Hardap and //Karas, as well as the economically vital Erongo to the opposition.

‘We brought freedom’

“What Swapo brought to Namibia is not measurable by value,” Schlettwein said.

“We brought freedom and liberty that gave us the lifestyle we have today. We have free press, sustainable justice, equality in rights, good infrastructure and we have managed reconciliation rather well.

“But because of failure by some, we are running the risk of being driven back where we came from – tribalism and conflict of interest. Let’s strengthen what we’ve done well. It’s a tall order but we have to do so.”

According to the minister, while Swapo’s policies were good, the lack of follow-through also hurt the party and affected the trust of the people.

“The policies that Swapo brought to this country are not bad. Everyone says we have good policies. It is how we implemented them and how we slipped, which then made us lose, that’s so valuable with trust,” he said.

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