Swapo, a liberation movement under test


This weekend will witness yet another Southern African country, Namibia, go to polls to choose a new president and government. The election is a test for yet another former liberation movement, the Swapo Party.

Swapo is largely expected to cruise to victory in the Presidential and National elections, as Namibians still repose their trust, in the governing of the affairs of their nation, in the former liberation movement. Recent elections in southern Africa have seen liberation movements consolidate their dominance of the political terrain in their respective countries.

Mid-last year Zimbabwe’s Zanu (PF) coasted to a crushing victory when it navigated its way past the challenge of the opposition MDC-T. And in May this year, Africa’s oldest former liberation movement, the African National Congress also won the elections to remain in charge of the affairs of Pretoria, the region’s strongest economy. In the middle of last month, Mozambique’s Frelimo also posted a victory in that country’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections while the Botswana Democratic Party brushed aside the challenge of the opposition to win Presidential and Parliamentary polls at the end of October this year.

This weekend, barring a miracle performance by the opposition, the Swapo Party is expected to emerge triumphant in the Namibian elections.

The dominance of the former liberation movements in Southern Africa is undoubted but the revolutionary organisations should now live up to the current challenges emerging in their countries. There is danger that they are being trapped into programmes or agendas that run contrary to their objectives of waging the liberation struggles to free their peoples from colonial subjugation.

The wars of liberation fought in the Southern African region were waged for the right of the people to vote and choose their own leaders and governments and the restoration of the dignity of the indigenous peoples of these countries. The objective was also to correct the imbalances in the ownership of the resources of their countries which were heavily skewed in favour of the minority colonial regimes. These resources included the land, whether for housing purposes in the urban areas or for agricultural purposes in the farming areas.

The aspirations of the revolutionary movements were also to fight for the empowerment of the majority natives of their countries to be able to also participate in the mainstream economies of their countries.

These objectives remain true to this day but the former liberation movement must also be aware of the challenges – old and new ‑ threatening their task to deliver these aspirations.

Growing inequalities in the economies in the region, continued lack of access to land for farming and housing and the perpetual marginalisation of the majority from participating in the economy are begging for solutions from the former liberation movements.

In addition to the challenges outlined above, the former liberation movements have to contend with the scheming of the former colonisers who are bent on entrenching their imperial hegemony, militarily and economically.

These economic superpowers will continue to hover over their former colonies and the former liberation movements must remain alive to the threats they pose.

Failure to fulfil the objectives of the struggles for independence provides a groundswell for the former colonisers to seize opportunity and seek to have their lackeys take charge of our resource-rich countries.

December 2014
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