Use of 'war' in electoral battle is fairly routine

21 October 2020 | Opinion

SOPHIA SHANINGWA



On 17 October 2020, the president of the Swapo Party, Comrade Hage G Geingob successfully launched our campaign for the November 2020 regional and local authority elections.

Comrade Geingob delivered a highly inspiring message to the rank and file of the Swapo Party in order to mobilise supporters and sympathisers to campaign hard for an overwhelming majority of votes for the forthcoming elections.

Indeed, the Swapo Party machine was ignited and is now in full swing for the regional and local authority elections. In the true spirit of the Swapo Party, the president touched in a candid manner on recent developments within the Swapo Party that have led to renewed energy and excitement within the party.

The president, as he has always done, provided an excellent synopsis of the remedial actions the party had undertaken since the November 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections. Following the results of the 2019 elections in which the Swapo Party and Comrade President Geingob was returned to government and the presidency by the majority of Namibians, Comrade Geingob said to the nation, “I have heard you.”

Comrade President also addressed the Central Committee of the Swapo Party in December 2019 and announced that the rank and file of the Swapo Party had the obligation to reflect and introspect through a consultative and deliberative meeting in order to chart a new way forward after our party missed by one seat the two-thirds majority it has always enjoyed for the past 25 years.

That process, as Comrade President said during the launch was successfully completed, with our introspection meeting and post-mortem of the 2019 presidential and National Assembly elections in July 2020 yielding outstanding results.

Our detractors, who included opportunistic opposition parties (without a message of their own) and certain media, joined by so-called armchair analysts, were hoping that these activities aimed at introspection and renewal were going to fail. How wrong they were! Our list of candidates for the 2020 regional and local authority elections is a dynamic blend of youth and experience, including gender.



'History of success'

Comrade Geingob was right in his assessment that there are comrades who made us lose votes due to a lack of service delivery in certain areas. Our Swapo Party has a history of success and it is why when something does not go according to plan, we will find the mistake and fix it!

During this election, some will try by all means to collude to dislodge the Swapo Party. Namibians should rest assured that the Swapo Party, as it has always done, has the best interests of all Namibians, irrespective of race, class or creed. Swapo has been and shall remain the home and mass-based movement for all Namibians.

The president of Swapo Party, Comrade Geingob, has done far more for nation-building, inclusivity and national reconciliation since independence. Comrade Geingob fought for freedom and the democracy that we continue to enjoy today. Comrade Geingob is a peacemaker and a leader who has always championed democratic debate and unity of the Namibian people.

This is in the DNA of our president and the rank and file of our party. Swapo stands for solidarity, freedom and justice. We cannot receive lessons from political parties like the DTA/PDM that assisted with the oppression, injustice and denigration of black people in collusion with an illegal apartheid government.

The Swapo Party cannot receive lessons from Henk Mudge of the Republican Party, who without any condemnation spoke at length a few weeks ago in a voice note about how white people should mobilise against the Swapo Party. In fact, Henk Mudge, who mobilises exclusively around white privilege, should be condemned for his utterances that national reconciliation started before under apartheid. It is the Swapo Party, which has implemented the policy of unity and national reconciliation over the past 30 years. Therefore, Comrade President Geingob condemned racial mobilisation by a section of the white population against the Swapo Party, which is normal in the course of our message of unity and progress during an election campaign.



'Well-oiled machine'

There are those detractors who were hoping that the Swapo Party would enter the 2020 regional and local authority elections divided. That wish did not materialise and our party is a cohesive unit and ready to fight the war of elections as a well-oiled machine. Our detractors were hoping that our party would field candidates without regard for renewal in terms of youth.

That wish did not materialise either. We have fielded young and dynamic comrades to take service delivery to another level. All the macabre wishes to weaken the Swapo Party have been debunked. It is why they look for petty issues, parenthetical expressions and usage of language to fill negative headlines with the objective of influencing public opinion.

To use the word “war” colloquially in the context of an electoral battle is fairly routine, and opposition leaders without an agenda and fault-finding journalists who rush to fill sensational headlines should know better than that. Certain politicians called the Swapo Party an Owambo organisation and there was no haste by the same newspapers in condemning such tribalist utterances. Similarly, Comrade Hage G Geingob, elected by the rank of file of the Swapo Party, has been called a gatekeeper by virtue of his ethnic origin.

This too went without any condemnation. For Comrade Geingob, the president of the Swapo Party, to express concern at an election campaign platform about a section of our white compatriots, who we have heard are registering to remove Swapo from power, does not amount to racial discrimination.

In the United States and in Europe, whites are leading and showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Indeed, the words of Luke 12:48 are valid; “to whom much is given, much will be required” is the context in which Comrade President Geingob raised the concerns at an electoral platform of Swapo.

The time has come to hold hands and fight inequality and our white compatriots have an important role to play. They should not resist economic transformation!

The same energy we are trying to waste on this non-issue is the same energy with which we should condemn inequality and all forms injustice against the black majority caused by a century of colonial oppression and apartheid.

There are those who are disappointed that the Swapo Party remains unshaken, and is still the Mighty Party of choice for the majority of Namibians.

They will look for faults where there are none. Thus, Namibians, including the rank and file of the Swapo Party should remain vigilant and alert to defend our hard-won freedom, our record of peace, stability and development for future generations. As the Swapo Party and through our tried and tested President, Comrade Hage G. Geingob, we always appeal to the forces of unity and not division, and we will work for progress and not ruin.



*Sophia Shaningwa is the secretary-general of the ruling party, Swapo

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