Outgoing SWAPO Party Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba, has described how the current SWAPO congress battle has pitted him against his best friend, former Prime Minister,
Nahas Angula, who is challenging President Hage Geingob, for the presidency of the ruling party.
This emerged during an in-depth interview with the Windhoek Observer this week in which the former Cabinet minister also bid farewell to the position he has held for the past five years.
Mbumba expressed sadness as he recounted how he and Angula had walked from Ondangwa to Lusaka in the early 1960s to join SWAPO in exile as the war for independence raged.
The SWAPO veteran, who will relinquish the SG position at the start of next week’s elective congress said that he was not moved by comments made by his fellow party comrades, some of whom have accused him of overseeing the violation of the party constitution, in favour of President Hage Geingob’s candidature.
He said only comments from Angula; his longtime best friend had hurt him.
“The worst for me and what hurts me the most is what comes from my own best friend, Nahas Angula. We left home the same day, same time. We walked from Ondangwa to Ogongo to Nkurenkuru to Rundu up to Kasane in Botswana and Francistown then later Lusaka. We came back on the same plane. His youngest son named, Nangolo Angula, is my ‘father.’
“But politics is politics. They have to blame me. But if they blame me and win, good luck to them. But if they blame me and lose, also good luck to them,” said a visibly shaken Mbumba.
“I owe him nothing, and he owes me nothing. I am just saying that in politics we can turn tables on one another. It is his own decision to campaign and it is his decision to say the things he is saying about me. But nothing can erase what we have been through and the history we have shared.
“As I said in politics, we must be able to accept whatever comes our way. To date, nobody has pointed out that I have violated this clause or that article in the constitution,” said the outgoing SG.
Angula is running for the position of party president against youth and sports Minister, Jerry Ekandjo, and acting party president, Geingob.
Mbumba described his five years in office as ‘tough’, adding that he gives praise to the Creator for helping him ‘carry heavy loads’ which he has now survived.
Asked whether he has any regrets as he lives office, Mbumba said he has none. “I have no regrets in terms of becoming the SG; I have regrets of other things, not on this job which was an experience.”
Reacting to Mbumba’s comments, Nahas Angula said the SG was to blame for the way their friendship had turned out.
“He is the one who started hurting us by calling us his‘poor people’. Some of us come from poor family backgrounds and we don’t want to be reminded of that. His remarks are actually referring to people like my parents who were peasants.
“It’s a betrayal, and SWAPO was not founded for that. The party was founded to fight for the rights of poor people. So I was hurt by those words.
“The friendship between us still remains. He is the one who deserted me first. When I decided to run, I informed him about my intention, but he said nothing. He decided to support other people and that also hurt me,” Angula explained.