Every year when the Swapo Party has its elective congress, it becomes a season of madness. As if that madness is not enough, it gains momentum when the time for the pot comes. At the centre of this madness is the party’s vice presidency or the presidency position.
Currently and ever since 2012, the madness targeted President Hage Geingob’s party vice presidency and now it is about him seeking the presidency. The main reason for this madness is that once one becomes the party’s vice president, they automatically qualify for state presidency.
Every time, the madness has either left some people emotionally traumatised and physically broken or completely disabled not only politically by spiritually as well. One case in point is the late Swapo’s long-serving member Hidipo Hamutenya who was forced to leave the party in 2007 after a grueling period during which he was dismissed, derided at and left in the cold. This is the same Hamutenya who was born in the party, grew up in the party and fought for the party and country all his life.
Indeed, the madness that swept through Swapo in 2004 maimed Hamutenya until the end. Although he returned to Swapo at the sunset of his life, he was like that outcast son coming back home to die surrounded by friends and family. The onset of the 2017 season of madness came last year with the Swapo Party Women’s Council election at Keetmanshoop. A Whatsapp group chat leak early December last year showed how deep this madness is when some of the women who could not ﬁ nd their way vented their anger. The party’s youth wing has been in the madness mode since the 2012 elective congress.
This madness just went a notch higher with the expulsion of former secretary Elijah Ngurare; spokesperson Job Amupanda and two other members – George Kambala and Dhimbulukeni Nauyoma in 2014. The quartet has since returned to the party after they took their case to the courts and won but did not assume their positions. Amupanda, Nauyoma and Kambala now run the Afﬁ rmative Repositioning movement that advocates for land and what they call restorative justice. It was widely believed when the quartet was expelled from the party that they would, like Hamutenya, form a party but they did not. Instead, they willingly went back.
Their expulsion, although at the time was about Amupanda, Dhimbulukeni and Kambala’s symbolic occupation of plots in Kleine Kuppe, was seen as a backlash for the support they gave Jerry Ekandjo during the 2012 elective congress. Now as the party gears for another elective congress this year, the season of madness is back. This time it is a special kind of madness because those who stood together in 2012 have either split to form new groupings or have joined the others who have always been on the other side.
The women’s council elections have set this tone. Maureen Hinda, the international relations deputy minister Maureen Hinda said when she; education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa and National Council chairperson Margret Mensa-William accused attorney general Sackey Shanghala of rigging the votes. Shanghala presided over the election during the women’s council’s congress.
Sam Nujoma’s season
In 1997, former President Sam Nujoma backed Geingob for the party’s vice presidency, but the late former deputy Prime Minister Hendrik Witbooi got the post. Five years later, Geingob was back again vying for the party vice presidency but unlike in 1997, Nujoma had other plans.
This time, Nujoma nominated former President Hiﬁ kepunye Pohamba who was the Swapo secretary general at the time to contest the vice presidency. To make sure that Geingob and Hamutenya would not stand a chance against Pohamba, Nujoma demoted Geingob from the premiership to regional and local government ministry. Nujoma also moved Hamutenya from trade and industry to foreign affairs. Realising that his chances for the second top post in party had ﬁ zzled out, Geingob resigned but Hamutenya stayed on to try his luck at the post during the 2004 extraordinary.
Hamutenya, who had declined nomination in 2002, competed against Pohamba and the then higher education minister Nahas Angula. Being one of the best performing ministers at the time, Hamutenya was conﬁ dent that with Geingob off the radar, he would get the vice presidency. But three days before the congress, Nujoma dismissed Hamutenya as foreign affairs minister. Nujoma accused Hamutenya of divisive tactics in Omaheke. With Hamutenya incapacitated, Pohamba’s path to the succeed Nujoma broadened. Just like Geingob before him, Hamutenya resigned from Swapo and surrendered his National Assembly seat in November 2007. He founded the Rally for Democracy and Progress soon after.
The season of hibernators
Hamutenya’s dismissal almost split the party when loyalists started witch-hunting for his sympathisers who were called hibernators. In 2005, Jesaya Nyamu, who was the trade minister at the time, was ex-communicated from the party after notes – now known as the Nyamu Papers – were found in his ofﬁ ce. In the notes, which Nyamu did not deny have written, he encouraged Hamutenya’s supporters in government to endure humiliation; discourage loyalists; allow elections to go ahead as if nothing has taken place. He also wrote that the other option would be to quit government one by one and then issue strong statements to the press. Nyamu’s expulsion ushered in a new era of type madness – the hunt for hibernators within Swapo.
Every politician worth their salt would never miss an opportunity to talk about hibernators. People lost their jobs at the mere suspicion that they were hibernators. The witch-hunt that started in 2005 is still on-going. Some of those labeled hibernators were security minister Namoloh; former youth minister Kazenambo. Helmut Angula and the international affairs minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah were also labeled hibernators. In 2015, Kazenambo however said the talk about hibernators was a lie meant to tarnish people’s lives.
He accused Ngurare of coining the term. Ngurare denied coining the term then saying that Nyamu’s notes had brought it up. Hamutenya said, when he rejoined Swapo in August 2015, that he left because of lies meant to tarnish his name. “I was at the receiving end of machinations and lies, which I perceived as deliberate attempts to tarnish my good name. This is why I left Swapo,” Hamutenya said. Some of the accused hibernators such as Phillemon Kanime, Magnus Nangombe, Shapwa Kaukungua and Festus Naholo have since rejoined Swapo.
What madness is Agenda 2017?
Two people have been talking about Agenda 2017 – Hanse-Himarwa and Mensah-Williams. Ironically, both complained about the women’s council elections, saying they were not fair and that they were rigged. Mensah-Williams told one weekly last year that Agenda 17 was meant to remove Geingob. “There are many bitter people who are hell-bent on creating discontent in the party. Many wanted positions in return for supporting Hage Geingob during his presidential campaign. One thing he always made clear was that we should not expect positions for supporting him and that we should support him because we believe in him,” she was quoted saying by the weekly.
The Villager has learnt that several meeting were held by some of the people Mensah-Williams spoke about and to discuss the way forward. One such meeting, The Villagers was reliably informed, was held at former President Sam Nujoma’s farm, Etunda, during his birthday celebrations. This was followed by other meetings in the north attended by huge numbers before the Okalongo gathering at businessman Vaino Nghipondoka’s homestead for a wedding. While details of who attended the other meetings prior to the Okalongo wedding/ meeting are sketchy, The Villagers was informed that ministers Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Tjekero Tweya, Penda ya Ndakolo, Tom Alweendo and Namoloh. Attorney general Sacky Shanghala, police inspector general Sebastian Ndeitunga, //Karas regional Swapo coordinator Matheus Mumbala, Omaheke coordinator Job Muniaro, Oshikoto region coordinator Armas Amukwiyu and Ambassador Kaire Mbuende were also seen at the wedding. Sources also said businessmen Desmond Amunyela, David Kambwa, Kelly Nghixulifwa, Lazarus Jacobs, Gideon Hamukwaya, and Nyerere Namoloh together with former youth league secretary Elijah Ngurare as well as Imms Nashinge were there.
Former ministers David Namwandi, former Kavango coordinator Vincent Likoro and Toby Aupindi were part of the gathering. Nghipondoka conﬁ rmed the wedding and inviting several people but denied that it was for a Swapo meeting. “There was no meeting. How can there be a meeting at a wedding? It is all rubbish,” he said. Iivula-Ithana said she arrived late in the afternoon on the day of the wedding. “What I do not know is the political conspiracy that is being alleged.
A wedding for me is a place where you invite people,” she said. Iivula-Ithana said she could not say there was a meeting or there was not because the person who served her food is part of the intelligence security. “The information that is being given maybe correct in a certain sense or maybe not,” she added. Iivula-Ithana also said she was one of those who did not eat in the hall where the bride and the groom because there were different arrangements. “You know I have attended several Swapo congresses. The last one was not different from the one coming. There were stories but for me to say whether it is true or not I cannot say. “Unless if you are asking me as Pendukeni if I am participating in anything that is considered to be against President Hage Geingob’s presidency,” she said. Since she has held one of the highest positions in the party as the secretary general, Iivula-Ithana said she knows the rules and procedures and that if she wants to stand for a position, the public will ﬁnd out in due course. She, however, pointed out that she has always been a target at every Swapo congress and that she cannot conspire against Geingob.
Her security details, she said, can testify as to her whereabouts at the wedding. “At the last congress, I was targeted as one of the people destroying the party. This was said by the Head of State but that did not destroy Swapo and neither did it destroy me. The Head of State said what he said because he was told by some people but the truth came out later,” she said. Shanghala said he did not attend a meeting but went to a wedding celebration. Swapo members, he said, who will attend the congress are the only people who can determine whether Geingob will have a second term or not. “It cannot be determined through newspapers or meetings or forums.
In terms of whether or not he should get a second term I believe that there is no question about that and those that are making a question about it, are people who maybe don’t understand Swapo and how it operates,” Shanghala said. Hamukwaya conﬁ rmed his presence at the wedding but said he did not attend any political gathering. He said that he was there because his business supplied drinks to the wedding and he was facilitating a smooth operation. “I can’t say there was no meeting because I did not attend a meeting but went there because of the wedding. I can’t comment on the meeting part because the only reason I went is because they support me. I was just helping them on the logistic side,” he said.
Tweya said he was there but denied any knowledge of a gathering to discuss a change in the Swapo leadership structure. “I don’t know about a meeting. I have only seen the story in the papers. I went there for the wedding and that’s it,” Tweya said. Retired Lieutenant General Martin Shalli said he did not attend the wedding and that he was not eyeing any post in the party. Both Ndeitunga and Namoloh could not be reached for comment. Ndeitunga was out of the country while Namoloh’s phone went unanswered. Former youth league secretary of economic affairs Imms Nashinge was furious when asked about the wedding.
He said it’s witchcraft for people to ask him about Swapo affairs when the same party expelled him. “I am minding my business after your bosses took a decision to chase us out of their party. Today you are calling me asking me issues of Swapo. The Swapo where we were chased out! “Ohamuli aantuu” (do you bewitch people) what nonsense is that?” Nashinge fumed. Nashinge said he attended the wedding because Nghipondoka is family and that it is not a sin for one to attend a wedding. “Communicate this to your colleagues, your bosses and masters. Number one, I have no interest in the current Swapo politics. I am minding my business.
Your bosses and friends took a decision to chase us out of their party. “You want me to give you views so what? You want to frame me again? I am really not interested. Such questions are very stupid and foolish and I thought you as a Newspaper are supposed to be looking for adverts and write stories that are going to build this country,” he said. Ngurare said he had no comment. “On these questions, I have no comment,” he responded in an emailed response when asked whether he was aware of wedding that had been turned into Swapo meetings. Jacobs said he attended the wedding because he is Nghipondoka’s friend and that he was not aware of any meeting that took place at the said wedding. “I did not attend any meetings. I attended the wedding because Vaino is my friend,” he said. Ya Ndakolo said he was invited to the wedding and he left around 17h00. “I was never at a meeting and never heard of a meeting. Maybe there was another meeting, I don’t know. Honestly, speaking; truly speaking I don’t know anything about a meeting. We were only invited for the wedding ceremony. I am not saying there was no such meeting I just don’t know,” he said.
Ya Ndakolo further said he supports Geingob and has no reason to support any other person. “I am the Minister of Defence. Why must I support somebody? No, I won’t go for any position. I have to adhere to the party structures and mandate,” he said. Amunyela did not say anything about the wedding or the meeting. “Lol, what kind of desperation is this? On a serious note, you claim that the information you have has identiﬁ ed me as one of those not in agreement with the Presidency of Uncle Hage. Can you please share that information with me? It will help me greatly with my response to your silly and poorly structured questions,” he said.
In his response to The Villager, Imms Nashinge said, “What is your interest if I attended or not? Is it a sin to attend a wedding? Is that what Walenga send you to ask me? How is me attending a wedding any of your interest? Whether I was there or not is none of your business. Tell your boss, Vaino is my family and I went to the house to celebrate the wedding. Please communicate this to your colleagues, your bosses and your masters. Number one, I have no interest in the current SWAPO politics. I am minding my business, your bosses took a decision to chase us out of their party. Today you are calling me asking me issues of SWAPO, the SWAPO where we were chase out! “Ohamuli aantuu” (do you bewitch people) what nonsense is that? Tell Walenga to stop his nonsense like that. You must never ever call me and ask me stupid questions, how can you ask me to comment on an issue of SWAPO? Many people attend weddings in December."
He added saying, “ You want me to give you views so what? You want to frame me again? I am really really not interested. Such questions are very stupid and foolish and I thought you as a Newspaper are supposed to be looking for adverds and write stories that are going to build this country, go and write your NAMDIA stories! Don’t call us asking stupid questions! Write NAMDIA stories, call your boss and ask him what happened, what deal was that? How does a wedding turn into a SWAPO issue? If you have someone that was part of that meeting then get all the necessary information and views from that somebody that was part of that meeting! Why are you calling us? We are not your friends, we are not your league, we don’t eat with you, we don’t eat with your bosses, and we don’t drink with your bosses! I won’t give views and comments on SWAPO presidency, ask those that are eating from SWAPO, ask those that joined SWAPO to eat.”
“I have been a volunteer since my childhood, I worked for this organization and for you to come back and ask funny questions is foolish. I don’t care if there is a Ndonga Agenda ask Walenga because he supported it and went to Mbuumba’s house 2011-2012 to talk to him because he is Ndonga to be the next Secretary General. If it’s there, ask Walenga, I don’t do Ndonga Agenda nonsense, talk to Walenga, he will give you the right information.”
John Walenga also responded to the comments made by Nashinge, saying, “If you had asked sked a 100 times around the same time, I would have given you the same answer as I was intertwined with politics. At the moment, my opinion won’t matter as I am not holding a political position within or outside Swapo Party. Hence the “Aandonga Agenda” is puzzling to me. If a clandestine meeting was held which gave birth to the latter, the organisers were smart not to have invited me. Even better that they forgot to send me the minutes. I have attended enough traditional gatherings under Ondonga Traditional Authority but to my knowledge no such discussions have ever taken place”.
He added that, “One thing is for sure though. Family afﬁnity or tribal/race consideration has NEVER played a role in the liberation of Namibia nor will it be the hallmark of Harambe Prosperity Plan. The size of an individual’s pocket has NEVER determined the direction of the Swapo in which I lost my political virginity. Anyone (irrespective of position you occupy in Swapo) who believes in the opposite, you will deﬁnetly ﬁnd me on the other side. There was a movement called “curfew” in Namibia, but things were still happening. You can only underestimate the power of people who are walking today next to their shoes at your peril.”
The Villager called Charles Namoloh and Dimbulukeni Nauyoma but they did not pick up the calls neither did they call back. Others whose phones were unreachable are as Job Amupanda and George Kambala. However, The Villager could not get hold of Vincent Likoro, Armas Amukwiyu, Ambrosius Kandji, Tobie Aupindi and Kelly Nghixulifwa.