SWAPO elective congress opens
Windhoek – Namibia’s ruling SWAPO Party opened its fifth Ordinary Congress this last Thursday, with President Hifikepunye Pohamba paying tribute to fellow liberation movements from the region for their support through the decades.
The four-day congress was to culminate in the election of office bearers to lead the party for the next five years.
SWAPO Party has been in power since Independence in March 1990.
Opening the congress, party and state President, Pohamba, underscored the importance of international support during the country’s struggle against the apartheid colonial regime of South Africa.
He said SWAPO would forever be grateful for the assistance and co-operation it received during its struggle against apartheid, especially from sister liberation movements from across Southern Africa.
The biggest prize on offer at the November 29 to December 2 elective congress was the party’s vice presidency.
The winner is more or less guaranteed a clear path to the state Presidency in the 2014 elections.
President Pohamba is serving his second and final term as state President and his position as party leader was not being contested at the SWAPO congress.
SWAPO heavyweights Dr Hage Geingob (party vice president since 2007), Secretary-General Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, and Secretary for Information and Mobilisation Jerry Ekandjo were contesting the vice presidency.
Other posts up for grabs were Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General as well as 72 Central Committee posts and seats in the Politburo.
More than 600 delegates from all party structures in the country’s 13 regions attended the congress at a Windhoek hotel.
President Pohamba was pleased by the presence of emissaries from other former liberation movements in the region and sister parties from other parts of the world – including China, Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Welcoming the guests, President Pohamba said their presence, “underscored the importance of international solidarity that helped to sustain the effort of the Namibian struggle under the leadership of SWAPO during our national liberation struggle”.
In their solidarity messages, representatives from MPLA (Angola), ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe), the Botswana Democratic Party, the ANC (South Africa), Frelimo (Mozambique), the Workers Party of Korea, and the Communist Part of China assured SWAPO their unwavering support.
A Frelimo representative noted that the outcome of the SWAPO congress was of great importance to Southern Africa and the entire developing world.
The official noted that liberation movements were united by a common past rooted in the fight against oppression and poverty.
The national chairperson of ZANU-PF, Simon Khaya Moyo, described the SWAPO congress as a momentous occasion from which his party can learn.
Khaya Moyo said SWAPO and ZANU-PF remained all-weather friends “thanks to our struggle for self-determination, which made us inseparable”.
The Zimbabwean delegate also cautioned former liberation movements, the majority of which are now governing parties in their respective countries, not to rest on their laurels.
“It is not enough that we are flying our own airlines or sing our own national anthem. The question remains as to how we lead our people towards equity and economic emancipation,” Khaya Moyo said.
He further expressed his gratitude to the SWAPO-led government for its consistent opposition to the illegal Western economic sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Having cemented political co-operation, Khaya Moyo stressed the urgent need for former liberation movements in the region to forge economic partnerships for growth and development.
“We need to stand in unity in order for us to win economic war in Africa. The exchanging of ideas promote basis for political, and legal framework that favour own people,” said Khaya Moyo, who has served as Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa.
In his solidarity message, central committee member of MPLA Alfonso van Dunem M’binda said the SWAPO congress should serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by all the people who died for Namibia’s independence.
M’binda thanked President Pohamba for the “warm relationship between the MPLA and SWAPO, which I hope will continue”.
He added: “Therefore, the next generation of SWAPO leaders should follow in the footsteps of Pohamba and (Dr Sam) Nujoma to uphold the good relationship between Namibia and Angola.”
According to an ANC emissary, the South African ruling party and SWAPO shared a common vision and culture through their armed wings (Umkhonto We Sizwe and PLAN, respectively) during the struggle against apartheid.
“Our heroes worked in chains and shared ideas with one another at Robben Island.
Our parties have upheld value systems based on principles of respect for another,” said the ANC official.
She stressed her hope that “the next SWAPO leader will continue to lead Namibia as the current of government of Namibia is currently doing – ensuring better living standard of the people”.
“Liberation movements must support one another, and stand together (for) total economic, political and social liberation of our people.
“We hope the SWAPO congress yields results that will strengthen not only the party but also the liberation movements in the region,” she said.
Representatives from the Communist Party of China, Korea’s Workers Party and the Botswana Democratic Party also congratulated SWAPO for its many successes over the decades, and pledged their continued co-operation and support.