Windhoek Observer (WO) journalist, Eliaser Ndeyanale, recently caught up with SWAPO Party Deputy Secretary General, Marco Hausiku (MH), to discuss, among others issues,
divisions in the party and concerns about ancestral land claims.
Hausiku also talked about succession in the party were he makes a strong argument against leaders choosing their own successors. Below is an excerpt from that interview.
WO: Are you concerned about the divisions in the SWAPO Party which have led to the emergence of splinter groups like LPM and AR?
MH: The SWAPO Party believes in three main principles of solidarity, freedom and justice. People have freedom of choice to join SWAPO, to be active in SWAPO and of course the freedom to leave if they so wish.
Personally, I am not concerned about people forming their own organisations, whether it’s a movement or political party. It’s their choice and I believe that we have to continue seeking for justice in all activities that we carry out.
WO: What if the leadership is being unjust to them?
MH: No leadership will be unjust to you. It’s wrong to think about the [party] leadership as being unjust to you because you are also part of the leadership.
All those who are complaining have been part of the leadership. We have to continue, as members of the party, as the leadership of the party, to seek for justice and in self-correcting. But surrendering and running away is a wrong choice.
WO: What plans are in place to unite the various factions in the party?
MH: Factions are prohibited according to our constitution. We have to fight factionalism by all means wherever it rears its ugly head. We need to talk about it. It’s true that we have people falling prey.
The reason why we established a party school is to make sure that programs are put in place to educate people about political maturity and for members to understand that the party’s constitution is supreme.
At the end of the day, whoever goes out of line, they should know that there will be a disciplinary hearing against them and that fair action will be taken against them. That’s the mentality we are nurturing through the party school.
WO: There are members who challenged the results of last year’s congress, how do you plan on engaging them?
MH: They were engaged already, before their submission even. They were engaged right there in the conference hall where all of us who had contested hugged each other. All of us said this is the end of our campaign and we have to accept the results and outcome.
WO: If you look at the top four of the party the average age there is 66. Don’t you think that you and your colleagues have been in power for too long?
MH: Let me tell you about the issue of grooming. The grooming that all of you do not want is where a leader chooses somebody to be close to them and say, when I die, this is the one. Nobody accepts that, that’s the system they used in the former Soviet Union.
I also do not like it because as someone who believes in democracy, every leader has to be elected.
Let me take you to Parliament in 1990. I was a young cabinet minister then, but today when you look at Parliament most of us who were there in 1990 are no longer there.
All those people there now are new and there are a lot of young people. Only two people who were cabinet ministers in 1990 are still in cabinet and these are the president and vice president.
You won’t survive politically if you want change every day.
The process of grooming is not the responsibility of any party leader, but of an individual. You have to groom yourself from the day you join the party, by doing party activities and growing within there.
WO: What is your view on ancestral land claims? Do you think it is fair for communities whose land was disposed during the colonial era to demand ancestral land rights?
MH: I believe that Namibia is our ancestral land. It’s not a question of who qualifies to have this one or that one.
WO: Do you believe it’s fair for the direct descendants of people who feel their land was taken way to claim back this land?
MH: I don’t believe that. In actual fact if you go deeper, some of the people that are sitting on the land that you talking about are your own brothers, cousins or someone from a different clan. The question should be, is it possible?
WO: How do you describe your relationship with members of the former Team SWAPO who unsuccessfully contested for leadership positions at the SWAPO Congress last year?
MH: Right at congress we said this is the end of everything. We told everyone that even the t-shirts we were wearing were no more because the aim of the competition has come to an end.
WO: If you look at Namibia now, it’s more fragmented in terms of tribalism than 10 years ago, what should be done to address this issue?
MH: We are becoming too tribalistic. Personally, I want us to go deeper and search for the reasons why this is happening. One of the issues I realised is the competition for leadership and employment opportunities.
We should intensify the process of mobilization and campaigning on national development, nationalism and patriotism. We need to think wider than our own tribes and regions.