SWAPO Party Vice Presidential candidate, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, has accused President Hage Geingob of not being truthful about the State of the country’s economy.
Answering questions during a press conference to unveil candidates vying for the top four positions in the ruling party, Iivula-Ithana, who is also a Cabinet member of Geingob, took a swipe at Geingob over the state of affairs in the country and in the party.
“Our international credit ratings are being called ‘junk status’, but we are out here hiding information from the public about the state of economy of this country; why should we hide such situations from ourselves? Is this not the time for all of us to tell the truth, tighten the belt and put systems in place to get the country back on course for development?” she said to a loud applause from the crowd in attendance.
The SWAPO veteran also took aim at Geingob’s signature Food Bank project, which the acting SWAPO president has championed as the legacy of his presidency.
“Now we have a Food Bank? How can you have a Food Bank when you cannot produce food yourself? How can we have able-bodied Namibians sitting, waiting to be fed from resources generated by others? We should rather rekindle the spirit of working hard for our people,” Ivula-Ithana said.
The home affairs minister’s comments were echoed by SWAPO presidential candidate, Nahas Angula, who said that the party and Government at large were going in the direction of a “failed state.”
“After the junk status, what’s next, a failed state?”
“That’s the problem we have, we must renew the organisation of the party; we must work harder to build the economy. We cannot continue to be rated as junk status. When some of us were leaders, the Government was not in junk status, from this junk status then we could head to a failed state if we cannot make substantive changes in the way we consider what we are doing,”Nahas said.
Quizzed if the groupings’ candidature for the ruling party position was being driven by sour grapes, Angula said , “There are no sour grapes within the party. SWAPO is there to save itself from collapse, we have said it in our statement that for the past two years we have seen a party without ideological and political content.”
A party normally has to study to achieve certain social and economic goals, so you have to ask yourself what kind of party is this one without such? If you don’t have such ideas then you are not a party. As of now, we see that SWAPO is just a bureaucracy, there are no political guidelines or ideological ways on how to mobilise the people. No common ground around members, there is no central guiding principles which people can follow.”
Ivula-Ithana and Angula were joined by Jerry Ekandjo, Petrina Haingura, Martha Tilahun-Namundjebo and Armas Amukwiyu, as candidates, but stood together to make a joint speech to reiterate their point.
A press statement read by former SWAPO Party Secretary General, Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, on behalf of all the other candidates, painted a gloomy image of the state of the affairs in the party.
“We have witnessed the deliberate postponement of nominations from the rank and file of the party. It must be clearly understood that all party leaders from sections, districts, regions and at the national level are democratically elected through an open and free contest for the positions,” he said.
“SWAPO is not the personal property of a few, but is available to all. An open democratic election should not mean weakness, but strength. The party’s rules direct how things should be managed; they need only be applied equally to all and be used in all situations.”
Tjiriange said the party need leaders that will return it to its founding values and away from the abuse of the existing leadership led by Geingob and Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba.
“The SWAPO Party was not created as a club for a few or to be an elitist organisation or personality cult, therefore the role and contribution of the workers, peasants, youth, students, churches, women, the intelligentsia and other progressive forces nationally and internationally were fundamental and key to waging and winning Namibia’s struggle for liberation,” their statement read.
“It must be clear that in SWAPO Party there is no automatic transfer of power. Power is only attained through a democratic process. It should further be understood that no intimidation/bribery and coercion of delegates is allowed in the SWAPO Party.”
SWAPO founding member, Vinia Ndadi, threw his weight behind the statement issued by the candidates, while also raising concern of how the party was being run.
SWAPO Secretary for Information and Mobilisation, Helmut Angula, who is also a vice presidential candidate, was not present at the launch, but his speech was read by Dr Panduleni Itula.
“I have no doubt that despite concerted efforts by others, to coerce delegates to abrogate their constitutional right of choosing their own leaders, the committed SWAPO Party legitimate delegates, to the SWAPO Party 6th Congress, will use their conscience and exercise their own democratic right, without coercion, to cast their secret vote for the defence of the SWAPO Party constitutional core values and principles,” the SWAPO vice presidential hopeful said.
The candidates accused Mbumba of ‘deliberately’ delaying an announcement of the names of the Oshikoto region's candidates for the party's Central Committee (CC) after they were submitted for vetting over two months ago.
The party headquarters was fully packed with SWAPO supporters with the music of Ndilimani playing loudly at the event.
This comes as the SWAPO Party Women’s Council, the SWAPO Party Elder’s Council and the SWAPO Party Youth League held their press conference on Wednesday to restate their position of support for the candidacy of the acting president of the party, Hage Geingob and his chosen list of officers.
Their statements were primarily focused on cautioning against two centers of power, saying that the State president and the ruling party president should be the same person.
“As leaders of the three wings of the SWAPO Party, we want to urge our members and the entire rank-and-file of the SWAPO Party to embrace democracy and its manifestations being experienced in the party. Democracy is about choices, yet, once the race is over, we urge all our members to rally behind the SWAPO Party so that we can face our political rivals at the ballot box for the presidential and national elections in 2019 as a united party,” the Wednesday statement read.