The Sixth SWAPO Party Elective Congress is over and the flood waters of haggling, discussions, open politics, debates and clashing perspectives are receding.
Namibia is ready to get to work, resume the race towards building a better tomorrow. Focus should now be on building, instead of debating, who we are and who we want to be.
Congratulations are in order for all delegates who were elected into office at the congress. The fact that the victories for the main posts were landslides is significant. President Hage Geingob came to office with a huge mandate of 87 percent from across the nation, and now he has secured the ruling party’s presidency with nearly 75 percent of the votes from the 768 SWAPO delegates present at congress.
Maturity of democratic, elective politics in Namibia is also a winner as the sixth congress is laid to rest. People sharing the common love of their political party, opposed each other on issues, debated various points and then left matters in the hands of the voters, as is correct. When the smoke cleared, the voters had spoken and chosen a list of legitimate, democratically elected leaders to guide the party along its future pathways.
Reviewing the congress, another round of applause goes to the candidates who stood for election, but were not successful at the ballot box. It must be recognised that they were very successful as vital participants in the expression of democratic choice made by the SWAPO Party members participating in the congress.
It is not easy to stand up for any position or point of view, particularly if that view is not popular or invokes hard debate and disagreements. And yet, democracy demands this. It calls for all of us to speak our points of view and be heard.
Of course, anyone prefers a victory dance rather than a conciliation speech. Nevertheless, when all parties in the race end up dancing together as they share the same overall goals, the festivities can be enjoyed on some level, by all present.
There is a measure of relief in the air from all who were preoccupied or participating in the sixth SWAPO congress. The tidal wave has passed and the damage is manageable. The run-up to the party congress became tense; discussions about the congress dominated many events, venues and programmes, but that is over and the people are free at last!
There are no promises to be made, only those to fulfil. There are no more campaign speeches or rallies to attend, only opportunities to cheer and support the programmes announced by those in the driver’s seat of the party.
A strong message from the congress is that SWAPO should not be run with a ‘business as usual’ mentality. There were many strong points along this line that were made by various speakers, particularly the founding President Dr Sam Nujoma and the former President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Concerns were raised about the nullifications of elections that were rampant and SWAPO Party constitutional violations occurring in many situations. The party was counselled to make sure the discontent that was on display in the election campaign does not continue or grow. There must be a level playing field within SWAPO and one set of rules for all to follow. Issues brought to light by the election process must now be addressed and rectified.
Supporters of the ruling party now await marching orders to fix whatever may be broken, move on to united positions of national interest and absorb the new faces and new ideas that permeate the Central Committee.
We are acutely aware that many of us are more or less capable than some, but not one of us is more capable than all of us working together. Our strength is in our unity, and our magic is in our diversity.
As comrades have successfully managed to bury the hatchet, as well as the chopping block, and are now laughing together, they should also work together for the common good of our motherland.
We were very encouraged by the speech of party and State President Hage Geingob.
His statements prior to the vote for office were indicative of his statements after the fact. “SWAPO is united and has not changed, despite the seeming divisions in the campaigns during the run-up to the party’s sixth elective congress,” said the president on 24 November before the vote.
After the vote, in the wee hours of Monday morning when the results were confirmed and announced, he said, “Our goal now is to unite behind SWAPO ideals and principals. Today is not about saying that this individual has won or that individual has lost…there are no losers in SWAPO. Today, SWAPO has won…SWAPO will always emerge victoriously.”