Leadership change in SWANU historic - Tangeni Iijambo
The newly elected president of Namibia’s oldest political party, SWANU, Tangeni Iijambo has defined the recent smooth transition of power as historic and reflective of the democratic culture of the party.
Speaking to The Villager in an exclusive interview, the self-pro claimed radical Iijambo said his immediate agenda would be to increase SWANU’s membership right across Namibia’s social divide. “This is a very historical accomplishment. It will not be just me of course, it’s a team, and the first agenda would be a vigorous drive to attract more members so that we at least have votes come elections, hopefully also to educate the Namib ian people to understand what socialism is all about.
People were scared and mis-educated about socialism,” he said. Thus asserting the doctrine of his party, Iijambo alleged that the ruling revolutionary party, SWAPO was operating under what he termed “destructive capitalism”. He gave credit to his predecessor, Usutuaije Maamberua as having worked well to save the party from demise revitalizing structures and establishing new ones as well as landing a parliamentary seat.
“We were elected at the same time and when actually the party was almost dying. When we took over, we worked vigorously to establish new structures and gaining more members as well as getting a seat in parliament during the last elections. SWANU’s contribution in parliament in terms of bills has been immense,” he said. Iijambo would be the seventh leader to be at the helm of SWANU and he defined the transition of power as a demonstration that his is a party of transformation. “I feel good about it, because that in itself shows our democracy and revolutionary structure. There is no party in Namibia that will come close to SWANU’s changing of leadership because we are at the seventh now,” he said.
Meanwhile, former president Usutuaije Maamberua has welcomed the latest development in the party and although he will not occupy any position he said he will be working closely with the new president. “Smooth transition of power has been developed now as part of the political culture in SWANU. This is an illustration that we have for a long time handed power to others in a democratic manner,” he told this publication. Reflecting on his achievements, Maamberua said he has managed to expand the party presence, get enough votes to win a seat in parliament and keeping it there after the 2014 elections.
“Some parties that were in parliament could not even keep themselves in but for us we brought and kept ourselves in parliament. We have managed to bring the genocide issue to a political level, all the time it was always understood to be driven by traditional leaders,” he said. He also said the the land question saw effort coming from his party around issues of pushing for last year’s and this year’s land conference as well as ancestral land advocacy.
“We went to statehouse together with comrade Iijambo and others until we agreed last year that the second national land conference be held last year until it was postponed to this year,” he said. Meanwhile Iijambo said he was part of the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) before he defected to SWANU at which point he became a refugee in Zambia before joining the flock back during repatriation.
“During my days in PLAN, we were actually successful because we used to do quite a bit of harm to the enemy. Because of irreconcilable differences I resigned in 1977, became a refugee in Zambia, and during the repatriation I came back to Namibia,” Iijambo narrated. Iijambo is an English teacher by profession and has taught abroad with a bachelor’s and master’s degree attained through scholarship.