Ex-liberation movements urge SWAPO to remain united

Lahja Nashuuta

The former liberation movements in Southern Africa have urged one of their own – the SWAPO Party of Namibia — to remain united as it holds its 6th Congress to elect a new leadership for the next five years.

Since transitioning from military groupings to political parties – ZANU-PF of Zimbabwe, ANC of South Africa, Chama Chamapinduzi of Tanzania, FRELIMO of Mozambique, MPLA of Angola and SWAPO have since emerged as dominant political forces in their respective countries.

On Thursday, some of these organisations, including the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) and the Chinese Communist Party came to give moral support to SWAPO, which is holding its elective congress in Windhoek.

The ZANU-PF has committed to strengthening and sustaining longstanding relationships with SWAPO.  Speaking on Thursday at the opening of the four-day gathering, the Zimbabwean ambassador to Namibia, Rofina Chikava, said the relationship continues despite the change of leadership in ZANU-PF.

“A new era is unfolding and the legacy of our liberation ties continues in spite of the country’s transition,” said Ambassador Chikava who represented ZANU-PF.

She advised SWAPO cadres attending the congress to “let not the deliberations and disagreements divide you during the congress”.

The Africa National Congress (ANC) also counselled SWAPO to remain united regardless of the congress outcome.

“Let us all rally behind whoever is going to be elected in office after the results; avoid separation and remain united,” said Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, who represented the South African ruling party.

The BDP secretary general Mpho Balopi also cautioned the SWAPO Party members to refrain from fighting one another but to remain united and maintain peace within the party.

“For the past years I have witnessed a trend whereby political parties go to war within themselves and let me warn you (members of SWAPO), the moment you go to war within yourself, you will bleed SWAPO to death and history will judge you harshly,” Balopi  cautioned.

While recognising the role that Botswana played during Namibia and other neighbouring countries’ liberation struggle by giving cadres a shelter while in exile, Balopi commended SWAPO for maintaining  peace, democracy and good governance in the past 27 years.

“In the same chain I want to thank revolutionary parties within the SADC region and abroad for peace and security and promoting sustainable social and economic development within the country,” he said.

Balopi said apart from the historical relationship between the two countries, SWAPO and BDP still maintained a strong relationship and shared a same vision and objectives “which is unity, inclusive and to strive for prosperity within the country”.

“Just like our economic sovereignty has always been and remains a central tenet of BDP economic policy and it is the part of our vision to ensure we address challenges facing our people,” he said.

The Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) highlighted that SWAPO successfully fought for independence and that today Namibians were fully enjoying political, economic, social and other benefits.

“During its 11th congress about a month ago, Frelimo affirmed its conviction to continue to privilege the continuous strengthening of the friendly and solidarity relations among the former liberation movement parties of Africa,” a Frelimo representative said.

Abdulrahman Kinana, the secretary general of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) said the fight that SWAPO fought to liberate Namibia will never turn back.

“We greatly value your determination and efforts you are making towards becoming a nation characterised by a competitive industrialised economy while at the same time improving the welfare of the Namibian people,” Kinana said in a statement read on his behalf.

The Chinese Communist Party is also represented at the SWAPO Congres. The country’s vice-minister Xu Lyuping assured SWAPO that her party strongly values the historical relationship between them.

“We cherish the friendship between our two parties and I am ready to further the cooperation between us in various fields so as to chart out even brighter future for our countries and our people,” she said.

Additional reporting by Namibia Press Agency and the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.

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