Former Cabinet Minister Kazenambo Kazenambo is rallying behind Armas Amwikuyu, the SWAPO Party Regional Coordinator for the Oshikoto Region, for recently apologising to President Hage Geingob.
Kazenambo said that it takes strength and focus for Amukwiyu to publicly make such an apology to party leaders and stand behind his commitment to unifying the party regardless of what could appear to some as a sacrifice of his dignity and integrity. Placing the party over the individual, is what Swapo leadership requires.
“You will need to sacrifice in order to embrace,” added the former Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture, turned businessman.
Amukwiyu publicly apologised to Geingob for challenging him on his choice of the candidate for the position of Swapo secretary-general in the run-up to the 2017 Swapo Congress.
The Oshikoto regional party coordinator put his weight behind Geingob for re-election as Namibian President in the national elections slated for November and restated his sincere call for party unity.
Kazenambo said that Amukwiyu consulted him about their relationship with President Hage Geingob and what role to play in the run-up to the national and Presidential elections that will take place in November this year.
“I am linked to Armas and Hage either for good or bad, because both of us [Kazenmabo and Amukwiyu] have played a critical role with Hage over the years. We differed with him [Geingob] at various times, but we are back with him,” said Kazenambo.
He said that they were never enemies of Geingob, but only differed on the approach on issues and not on a personal level.
“We differed on how leadership was handling the party constitution,” he added, saying that there were differences in opinion or interpretations on whether former President Hifikepunye Pohamba ‘handed-over’ the Presidency to Geingob or whether the President of Swapo must always be elected.
Kazenambo said that he was not aware that the presidency can be handed-over, but that the leadership is elected at congress, which was a difference in opinion for many in the ruling party.
He pointed out that leading up to the 2017 Swapo Congress, there were bitter contestations and many things were said that were inadvertently hurtful to others.
However, he stated that “we are not apologising for having taken part in the elections – it was our democratic right whether we participated as Harambee or Team Swapo.”
Kazenambo said there was mudslinging and a lot of tension on both sides, where people were calling each other opportunists, liars and hypocrites, but that such things can sometimes be a part of determined political campaigning.
Nonetheless, after the long campaign was closed, the policy of Swapo is that once a position is adopted, everyone should rally behind that one leader, he added.
“I was with Team Swapo. There were several groups within Team Swapo. I rallied behind the faction of Amukwiyu,” stated Kazenambo, adding that now it was time to move on as Swapo members and embrace each other.
“Armas (Amukwiyu) conceded defeat and thought everything was done. This is why I support Armas,” he pointed out, heaping praise on the Oshikoto party coordinator for letting bygones be bygones.
“But the war is still on. People are blocking each other for positions as if we are at pre-congress campaigns. We can’t continue like this,” he implored, saying that Amukwiyu’s apology to Geingob says the Swapo party needs healing as it was the party which suffered the most during the 2017 congress campaign.
Asked if allegations made that Amukwiyu only buried the hatchet after his billion dollar tobacco project was given the go-ahead by government had any validity, Kazenambo said that people were entitled to their own opinions but the tobacco project proposal started way before the fall out between the President and Amukwiyu.
“I also call him tobacco man because of our difference regarding the tobacco issue. Let’s graduate from cheap talk,” he said, calling on members of Swapo to unite irrespective of which slate they belonged to.
Kazenambo questioned how some people would campaign for the party or individuals in the upcoming national elections if they are closed out because they belonged to a particular slate.
“Let’s move on now, it’s time to face the opposition instead of directing the energy at each other,” he said, adding that “we have a country to build and if we continue with the tirades against Geingob, what Swapo will we inherit?”