'Swapo introspection a joke'
Commentators have called on the ruling party to set up a commission of inquiry to deal with rumours that it benefitted from the Fishrot bribery scandal.
27 July 2020 | Politics
Former prime minister Nahas Angula has described the ruling party's post-mortem gathering on last year's general election over the weekend as a farce, because President Hage Geingob was surrounded by “yes-men and yes-women”, while dissenting voices were nowhere to be seen.
This view was also shared by political commentators Ndumba Kamwanyah and Henning Melber, who said the party should in fact not “introspect”, but self-investigate and account for its members implicated in the Fishrot saga.
The ruling party held a two-day introspection meeting aimed at identifying and reviewing the principal factors for the outcomes of the 2019 general election in which Swapo party staggered across the finish line.
Geingob's presidential vote plummeted from 87% in 2014 to 56% last year, while the party lost 14 seats and its two-thirds majority in parliament. It was also the first time in a democratic Namibia that Swapo's presidential candidate received less electoral support than the party.
During the opening session of the gathering on Saturday, Geingob said for the party to remain united, cadres must raise their concerns and challenges through party structures.
An opinion piece by Angula, titled 'Swapo won't recognise itself in the mirror', was then read aloud.
According to Geingob, this was done so they may start on a fresh page of engaging each other on party platforms, and not through the media.
Angula, however, dismissed Geingob's remarks as “disingenuous”, saying yesterday the head of state is well aware the media is his only remedy.
“He knows that he mobilised people to vote me out of the structures of the party. He mobilised the uninformed to vote me out. I am just an ordinary member of the party. In which structure should I raise my concern?” Angula asked.
Geingob said the process of introspection should not be seen in a negative light, adding there are many detractors who will claim that the meeting is a sign that Swapo is losing its dominance in the political arena.
Mending fractured relationships
“We are here today to commence the important task of engaging as comrades, brothers and sisters, united in the quest to introspect and engage in honest debate and mend fractured relationships for the benefit of the Swapo Party, the only party we know and the only party we love,” Geingob said.
However, Kamwanyah said calling it an introspection is untruthful when only Team Harambee members were present, while alienated Team Swapo members remain out of the picture.
The two factions contested fiercely in the run-up to the 2017 ruling party congress, and a Team Swapo member, Dr Panduleni Itula, ended up running as an independent candidate against Geingob in last year's State House race, claiming about 30% of the vote.
“In general, you cannot introspect when you start blaming internal forces… when you bring only likeminded people. They should have reached out to Team Swapo and the critics of the party,” Kamwanyah said.
Melber argued that for Swapo to self-correct, it needs people from outside with credible intentions to serve the country's interest.
“I think the insight that the party has failed is a necessary first step. Everything else would have just been a desperate cover-up, failing to achieve any recovery or regaining the credibility lost. As a sober point of departure, now concrete measures have to follow.
“These could include a thorough cleansing process when it comes to office holders who have a proven track record of unethical behaviour,” he said.
Melber advised that the party could also call an extraordinary congress in which the necessary reform is discussed, and consulting people and seeking their views and proposals.
“Swapo should even consider a strict internal investigation concerning party funding with the involvement of trustworthy, non-partisan external reviewers whose insights and recommendations would add to the credibility of such reform processes.”
Kamwanyah added that the term “introspection” suggests there is no commitment to dealing decisively with those implicated in the Fishrot scandal.
According to him, the party needs to set up a commission of inquiry to deal with the rumours that it has benefitted from corruption.
“Yes, it is good to reflect. The problem the party is facing is that it has become corrupt and they must address that, and only through an investigation to punish those who have benefitted,” he said.