Fear factor grips the ruling party
A massive campaign by disgruntled members of the Swapo Party to dissolve the National Executive Committee of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) through a petition got underway last week.
The Villager has received a copy of the petition which has currently been circulating for signatories in Kunene and Hardap.
According to Nampa, the petition was written by former SPYL secretary for education, Natangwe Iithete whose group has people like Mandela Kapere, Sydney Ganeb and Milo Ipinge.
It’s understood that the petition was a response to an article written by Imms Nashinge who is the current SPYL secretary for economic affairs which was run in a daily and a weekly last week.
There was a last minute cancellation of a press conference last Thursday by some members of the SPYL who wanted to ‘distance themselves’ from the youth league’s recent utterances.
The petition is addressed to the Secretary General of the party, Nangolo Mbumba who told this paper yesterday that he was not going to be a ‘mailbox’ ‘for your fights’.
“I am not going to be your mailbox for your fights. Call the youth (league) leaders and ask them what is happening. I do not want to discuss it,” Mbumba said.
Between May and today, the SPYL has gone from gay bashing to insulting the persona of the Prime Minister, publicly declaring that there is ‘no love’ in the party, amongst others.
When asked why President Pohamba has not re-acted on recent utterances by the youth league, Mbumba became defensive.
“How do you know that he (Pohamba) is quiet? If somebody is behaving outside our Swapo culture, that person is violating the culture and he will certainly not be entertained. We know what the party says about dealing with such a person or entity,” said Mbumba.
The SPYL last week called for disgraced former army chief Martin Shalli to be appointed as head of the African Union’s Emergency Military Force.
Shalli retired in January 2011 after President Pohamba had fingered him in a corruption case involving externalisation of funds.
President Pohamba has ignored calls for his recall.
This is the second time the SPYL is playing the Shalli card after their aborted call for him with two other retired army generals to be among their Swapo Elective Congress delegates last year December.
Shalli has often prophesied ignorance refusing to comment on his relationship with the youth league which defended him from the day he was fired.
Asked if the SPYL is sending a point that the uniformed men’s continued political mention is a sign of disgruntlement from the military, SPYL Secretary Elijah Ngurare yesterday said, “Martin Shalli like all Namibians of his generation have made a profound contribution to Namibia’s independence. He is a freedom fighter and national leader. Therefore, mentioning his name with praise is not an affront to any office but stating the obvious. Jesus doesn’t get jealous when his disciples are praised.”
However, the petition to dissolve the youth league could show that there is growing ‘dissatisfaction in the current ill-discipline and un-becoming behaviour amongst the members of the SPYL NEC’.
“The undersigned members have been observing that a new culture of attacking national leaders has been developing within the Youth League ranks for some time now, particularly as of last year’s elective congress and has continued unabatedly up till now,” the petition reads.
The signatories have distanced themselves from the recent conduct of the SPYL NEC and asks the Politburo to intervene, ‘failing which we will no longer restrain ourselves as we have been doing for the past months in the hope that matters will normalise within the Youth League after the congress’.
But Ngurare says the petition is created by those who don’t understand the SPYL constitution and are opportunistic.
“The General (Shalli) is not pushing any agenda and he is not disgruntled. We love him and are honouring him while he is alive, not waiting for him to die and write speeches at Heroes Acre,” he said.
Ngurare, however, stopped short of admitting that the SPYL has blundered of late in some of its utterances although hinting that he might not have been informed of some of the statements that were issued by his body.
“Youthful energy is youthful energy. We cannot expect some of these young boys to behave like pastors. Of course, they need guidance and might not have enough time with them because I have been on the road on many occasions but it is good and healthy if the youth league is not predicted,” he said.
But will Pohamba Act?
President Pohamba’s shrewdness has created suspense within the party.
Nonetheless, his failure to call to order top cadres like Kazenambo Kazenambo, Willem Isaacks in their tribalistic remarks; his silence in the public spat between Minister Richard Kamwi and Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Lazarus Hangula where Pohamba is Chancellor, leaves him with few options to call the youth leader to order or dissolve the NEC.
The Swapo president has allowed the youth league free reign from the days of Jerry Ekandjo’s assassination claims to the most recent Hage Geingob assassination claims both issues emanating from within the party.
Pohamba, a shrewed tactician of repute whose best weapon is silence and keeping his cards not only close to his chest but by himself, seems to be benefiting from the youth league’s waywardness as his only way to protect and shield his candidate, Dr Hage Geingob.
Geingob’s luxurious lifestyle and close association with flamboyant entrepreneurs is an open secret but a threat to the ethics of the party’s leadership style.
For example, Pohamba did not take it lightly that Geingob allowed local businessman and a close friend, Desmond Amunyela into his convoy to Sam Nujoma Stadium during the Africa Day festivities where Namibia’s national soccer team played Zambia.
Had that landed into the ears of the youth league, the next president’s biggest critics would have had a field day; pressure which Pohamba knows would change the Geingob’s approach.
The Villager understands, however, that Geingob is growing ‘tired’ of his lieutenants, most who supported him during his bid for vice party presidency last year.
Geingob’s fury stems from the fact that some of his henchmen are now moving around name-dropping for business and other opportunities either to some of the Prime Minister’s associates or other entities.
For example, although not confirmed, Hardap Regional Governor Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s name has been pushed for deputy premier in the next government even prompting counsellors to write to the Swapo office complaining that there were SPYL elements sent to their constituencies to destabilise the governor’s meeting last week.
It’s assumed that Pohamba knows his Prime Minister is compromised and the SPYL’s critique could be helping him create stability unknowingly, hence his silence on the youth league.
If Geingob remains compromised and is not shielded, chances of him being recalled the Thabo Mbeki way, after Nelson Mandela left the scene are high.
The Villager investigations have revealed that President Pohamba’s Foreign Affairs pick last December, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is destined to be the Prime Minister once the president leaves the scene and that is meant to shield Geingob from recall, especially from those who do not buy into Pohamba’s power shift legacy.
The Villager, however, understands that Geingob has tipped Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila for Prime Minister.
Pohamba, like his predecessor, Dr Sam Nujoma, wants stability in the party after he is gone and that perhaps explains why he has allowed the youth league to run amok to keep checking on Geingob.
Pushing Ndaitwah for premier would shield Geingob from the little misdemeanours the party fears and would still keep the roots of the party intact and making her foreign affairs minister is meant to expose her to international relations in advance.
The ruling party won overwhelmingly in most recent by-election with the Grootfontein Constituency candidate garnering 2412 votes against RDP’s 635 last week.
However, it is the increasing voter apathy that has the party worried as 16 000 residents were registered to vote.
Last year, Swapo won the Katima Mulilo, Sibbinda Constituency by-election raking 1467 votes where 6200 eligible voters were registered.
The decreasing voter apathy is strengthening the opposition’s combined votes and the ruling party is yet to pronounce its strategy to combat this growing trend the same way the public bickering goes unchecked within the party.