Swapo, DTA square off in Kunene
Khorixas – Namibia’s ruling party, Swapo, and the opposition, DTA of Namibia, last weekend flexed their political muscles in Namibia’s north-western region of Kunene, holding separate political rallies at Opuwo and Khorixas.
This mountainous region, mostly populated by the OvaHimba people, the last semi-nomadic people in Namibia, has been a thorn in the flesh of the Swapo Party for the past two decades.
Despite its political dominance in local politics, Swapo has failed to break the opposition stranglehold in the region.
The United Democratic Front (UDF) and the DTA of Namibia have remained the dominant political forces in Kunene since the country’s first democratic elections in 1989.
The Kamanjab, Khorixas, and Sestfontein constituencies are under UDF, while Opuwo and Epupa are controlled by DTA. Swapo controls Outjo Constituency. The seventh constituency that was proclaimed on recommendations by the Fourth Delimitation Commission in 2013 – Opuwo Rural is being administered by the DTA until the local and regional authority elections next year.
Swapo launched its political programme for the November 28 Presidential and National Assembly Elections with a star rally at Khorixas’ Herbert Conradie Sport Stadium, October 12.
The party’s presidential candidate, Dr Hage Geingob, addressed the gathering, at which he ripped into the opposition politics that he accused of copying Swapo ideas by launching ‘two page’ election manifestos based on empty promises.
“Swapo is a trendsetter. Some people are just making statements, talking about election manifestos. It was not here, it was a concept that was introduced by Swapo and now everybody is launching manifestos – including two page manifestos,” Geingob said.
The Swapo vice-president was also incensed by public statements by opposition politicians about Swapo failure to device and implement programmes that could have lifted the majority of Namibian population out of poverty.
According to the opposition, the Swapo administration has failed to tackle social and economic issues including high unemployment especially among the youth, the poor standard of education, poor wages, and social safety net including old-age pension.
Geingob, gave the account of what the Swapo government has done, including the preservation of peace, unity and rule of law and that it has implemented socio-economic policies and programmes that enable over 400 000 to be lifted out of poverty. He said poverty rate in Namibia now stand at 23 percent from 70 percent in 1993.
“Therefore, don’t say Swapo has done nothing. Don’t be fooled by liberals who think they talk on behalf of the people. Those who are saying nothing was done are unpatriotic. They are telling lies just to get votes,” said the incensed Swapo politician.
“We recognise that there are lot of problems. Yes we brought peace and freedom of the press. But people don’t eat peace or press freedom. They want to have food, clothing, and good schools. That’s why our founding president (Dr Sam Nujoma) has declared economic struggle”.
Geingob has promised that once elected, his government will create a fully-fledged ministry solely dedicated to tackling poverty.
The Swapo rally at Khorixas was preceded by that of DTA held at the regional capital of Opuwo on October 11, which was addressed by the party leader and presidential candidate, McHenry Venaani.
Venaani, who paraded across town in a donkey cart, before addressing his party supporters at the packed Opuwo Sport Field – has promised to take Namibia to another level once elected into power.
The youthful politician was nonetheless unfazed by Swapo jibes, saying promises made in his party’s election manifesto are not only realistic but have been carefully ‘costed and budgeted’ as well.
He noted that DTA is the only party that is articulating minimum wage across board, advocating grant for single mothers, create safe haven for the victims of gender based violence and advocating a R1500 monthly old-age grant for pensioners.
The DTA president further called for a buffer zone between Namibia and Angola, a situation which ,he said has contributed to unequal marketing opportunities between northern livestock farmers and their counterparts south of the country.
Meanwhile, Venaani dismissed other opposition parties in the country including the official opposition party in parliament the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), stating that the DTA is the only alternative political capable of ‘taking this country forward’.
“Therefore, I call on you to vote for DTA to break the two third majority of Swapo in order to bring political balance in the country,” said the opposition politician.
In his parting shots, Venaani told the gathering that the party continues making inroads in other regions, primarily because it raises issues that are close to the people’s hearts, unlike Swapo which is busy talking about ‘continuity, peace and stability’ while people are wallowing in poverty.