Cry, cry the beloved Swapo.
Such is the best way to describe the atmosphere that marked the launch of the Swapo election manifesto at Sam Nujoma Stadium last weekend.
Although graced by the President Hifikepunye Pohamba and the Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma’s presence the attendance at the usually filled to capacity venue when such occasions take place was pathetic.
Like any other manifesto launch Swapo also seems to have gone to sleep because the rulling party continues to sing the same songs from an old hymn book.
While the weekend event showed a party battling to prove that those who lost at the Electoral College and those who won can sit on the same table and dine, their manifesto talks about the same old noises that have been made in the past.
The party will prioritise health delivery, education, increases social safety nets and even caters for the war veterans. These are statements that have been synonymous will the liberation movement. Perhaps now there is a need for the party to say we will find a way to make sure that all those who were pushed out of the structures at the Electoral College will be catered for.
Perhaps there is something going on behind the scenes of the revolutionary party than what catches the eye. Maybe the uprooted old guard has just realized that there is no more space for them in the revolutionary party and its time to let go.
The Swapo manifest launch event had a striking absence of some of the big names in the party. Not even the diplomatic community was well represented at the event that obviously showed that there was not enough mobilisations done.
Aftermaths of tsunami
It perhaps is ample time to admit that Tsunamis destroy and sometimes the level of destruction is too devastating to comprehend. A good judgment from the event which came barely a week after the surprise Electoral College which produced a list dominated by political rookies shows that there is a serious disengagement between the old guard that has now been thrown into the political doldrums and the vibrant youth who are incoming to power. Swapo seems to be in a quandary that they cannot deal with.
Such a political quandary needs some soul searching and heavy admissions that the party cannot completely do without the old guard and the party can also not fully rely on the rookies who will obviously struggle to foster the beliefs of the revolutionary party.
There is need for a balance. The old guard lures the grass roots support to the party and the new blood pumps in new ideas to the party. Such will be a good balance.
In fact the situation within the ruling party is starting to resemble that they might have taken a premature move to uproot the roots of the party at once. All along Swapo has been instituting a concept of guided democracy where they would slowly cede power to the ambitious young Turks but without uprooting the entire Tanga group who are the back bone of the party. There seem to be an intricate inside regime change against the old guard in preference of the young turks, but how sustainable is that. An average Swapo member would know Nahas Angula, Pendukeni Ivula Ithana, Nickey Iyambo, Richard Kamwi more vividly than they will recall the names of those who are in the first half of the party’s political list.
The concept in Swapo in the past can be equated to growing a tree by pruning the branches bit by bit so the tree can blossom, this was managing transition, however the way it is now it looks like someone in Swapo forgot about sustaining the tree’s growth and plucked out the roots.
One smells that there seem to be an internal destruction force within the ruling party that is eager to forget about the contribution of the heavy weights who were absent from the event last week.
It is not like Swapo that such an event was also missing the better party of the vocal youth league. Such a scenario seems very politically wrong. The ruling party is fast moving to situation where ther are many centres of power.
Centres of power
The weekend obviously emphasises that the old guard still remains a powerful force within the ruling party and without them it is very difficult to connect with the ordinary man in the street.
It also showed that the incoming young turks do not have what it takes to arouse the huge crowds reminiscent of Swapo in any event.
The third force is obviously that the Founding President and the outgoing President are equally powerful within the party. Ith such a scenario where there are different centres of power there is a need to have a mixture of youth and experience in the future administration where all forces will feel they are represented.
Is Geingob steering the whole ship?
President Hifikepunye Pohamba had to introduce the incoming President if he wins the elections Dr Hage Geingob to a meager crowd. Even the crowd seemed to have their own issues with high morale.
This somewhat raises difficult questions for the ruling party. The obvious ones that come to mind is , Is Geingob steering the full ship or some passengers have long dropped off? It was rather unSwapo that such an event of gigantic proportions will not be attended by the political heavy weights of the party who are obviously the old guard. Such an absence might also show that ther incoming captain is not steering the whole ship.
The stadium actually reminisced some of the worst case scenarios lie that in Zambia that saw their revolutionary party being pushed out of power. While the clear disengagement between the old guard and the incoming vibrant members of the party could be something usual Swapo needs to come up with a way of bridging the gap. It is pretty obvious that the bulk of the old guard is rooted and well connected with the grass roots levels of the party hence making it easy to mobilize major crowds to such events. It therefore becomes very difficult for the party to clearly find a way without them.