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Swapo top brass in 2019 election fever

by Kelvin Chiringa

The revolutionary Swapo Party’s bigwigs have indicated that they are already in electioneering mood for 2019 after a successful but highly tempestuous elective congress. 

Speaking at the sidelines of the swearing in of the Central Committee and Politburo members this weekend in Windhoek, land reform minister Utoni Nujoma said, “This is part of the election campaign.”

With only a year and some few months left to the elective national polls, Nujoma said the need to unite party members from the divisions of the recent congress is now paramount.

“We have to nourish unity. We must not forget that we are coming from an apartheid strategy of dividing the Namibian people. 

"We should not fall into that trap. Our purpose must be to unite the people irrespective of background, colour, ethnicity and whatever,” he said. 

Third-time central committee member Margaret Mensah-Williams said Swapo is already geared up, but the first agenda is to strengthen it from within. 

“I think that everybody is in gear but not only for 2019 elections, I think, first of all, but we also have to ensure we properly establish our institution. If we didn’t have the right competent people supporting the secretary general’s office, we now have to equip those offices. That’s where we have to start,” said Mensah-Williams.  

She added, “The greatest thing that brings people together is unity of purpose, and I think we have common objectives, we have the manifesto, we have the president’s promises that he made. For us is to do business unusual.”

Tourism minister who also chairs the Swapo disciplinary committee, Pohamba Shifeta said the recently noted divisions within the party were a result of a democratic contestation which does not reflect a divided party. 

“Swapo has always been united. What makes some people think that Swapo is not united is because of the elections. When of course it comes to elections, we are talking about contestation. Because they are contesting for positions, there will always be some people allying, (forming) alliances within the party. That does not mean that the party is not united,” he said. 

Newly nominated Central Committee member, Colleen van Wyk, cautions that unity can only come about if every member shows their sincerity beyond rhetoric.

“The party has to (come) first, first of all, and when we are together, then I think it’s (unity) going to be very easy. As long as we (in) the Central Committee can stand together and work together, it is possible,” she said.

Attorney general, Sacky Shanghala said from the congress and the setting up of the CC and politburo, Swapo will be uniting behind its manifesto as it enters the political fray for 2019 polls against rival political parties.

“What’s going to happen now is (that) the rank and file of the Swapo Party needs to unite behind the manifesto and the policies of the party to ensure that they deliver a victory for Swapo at the next elections. We may disagree (with) one another, but do not think we hate one another,” said the A.G. 

The party’s top brass has unanimously agreed that Swapo is doing better than some erstwhile revolutionary parties in the region that are rocked by instabilities as well as a coup in Zimbabwe’s Zanu PF.

Nujoma said if Swapo sneezes, everybody catches a cold. Therefore the party continues to draw lessons from the region to navigate storms of intra-party instability and potentially disruptive shocks.