What went wrong?

18 July 2013

IN THE music industry, one often hears of ‘one hit wonders’ – musicians who enter the industry, produce an amazing first song that tops the charts that makes them famous overnight and then they disappear.

In politics, we often hear time of how those who for some reason or other did not make a success of their careers, have been consigned to political dustbins, or have been banished into the political wilderness.

However, that is perhaps a bit harsh and one could would simply label individuals like these as people who promised so much and sadly in the end delivered so little.

Not only politicians risk a sudden fall from grace, although their careers are often the most uncertain and most likely to change drastically overnight, and every industry has stars who once shone bright but have now have fallen from the sky.

This week we decided to highlight just a few of these from our own society, look at what their strengths were, identify their time of climax and eventually their time of descent.

Hidipo Hamutenya
For those with their memory still intact people once referred to Hidipo Hamutenya as the star of Swapo’s golden generation, which included the likes of Hage Geingob, Theo-Ben Gurirab, Nahas Angula and so forth.

This generation of leaders have always been considered a valuable and rare breed of their times, and were considered too be well rounded because of their wide-ranging experiences.

Hamutenya was the star of a group of people who saw the Swapo liberation battlegrounds, experienced the hardships in refugee camps and later enrolled at some of best institutions in the world rubbing shoulders of historic icons and great orators like Malcolm X.

Therefore, to have counted among the brightest stars of Swapo in the years that led up to independence and those that followed was no small achievement.

Nobody else has come as close as Hamutenya did, and tested the popularity of founding President Sam Nujoma, as he evolved from his right hand man to his immediate competitor.

Notwithstanding Nujoma’s firm grip on the Swapo Party at the time, Hamutenya still managed to create an empire within an existing one.

On the rare occasions that serious divisions existed in the party, it was between those loyal to Nujoma and those supporting Hamutenya.

In 2004, Hamutenya admitted publicly that he had been preparing to become the president of Namibia for 40 years, but the things fell apart just when he was on the cusp of his life-long ambition.

At the 2004 extraordinary congress, he lost the Swapo Party presidential candidate election to President Hifikepunye Pohamba, and shortly afterward then President Sam Nujoma fired him from his position as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In hindsight during this era, only Swapo produced two politicians of such high calibre namely Hamutenya as well as the current Swapo vice president, Hage Geingob.

Geingob and Hamutenya have reportedly never enjoyed cosy relations as Swapo colleagues and when the time was ripe for them to run for the highest office in the party, there was not enough room for both.

In earlier years, the rise of Hamutenya saw the decline of Geingob, as Nujoma removed the latter as Prime Minister. Geingob refused to accept his redeployment as Minister of Regional, Local Government and Housing and resigned.

A few years down the line, Hamutenya has left Swapo to form his own political party, which many were certain would automatically achieve success because of its leader.

This, however has proven not be the case for various reasons, and the irony is that Geingob and Hamutenya are likely to face each other one last time in the 2014 national elections.

As the two have always only been in competition with each other, Hamutenya’s failure has only illuminated Geingob’s success.

It then leaves us with the final question as to whether the man makes the position or the position makes the man.

Either way, Hamutenya promised so much more than he was able to deliver. He is now reportedly engaged in a battle for survival as president of his own political party.

Paulus Kapia
Kapia, similarly to Hamutenya, is almost unrecognisable. In his day, he was one of the most vocal and influential youth leaders who climbed the political ladder rapidly.

Kapia unlike his peers at the time had not gone through structures such as the Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso), nor did he gradually progress within the structures of the party by starting at district level and moving up step-by-step.

His rise came when he ousted Ignatius Shixwameni as the Swapo Party Youth League secretary. Shixwameni later left Swapo and joined the Congress of Democrats, which he later also quit to form his own political party, the All People’s Party.

Kapia appeared on the political scene from nowhere and rose to glory overnight. Because of the political skills he portrayed, the Swapo faithful did not appear too bothered about his sudden rise and that he overtook long-serving youth leaders, who were ready to move onto the national stage.

As secretary of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) Kapia spoke with authority, and did not shy away from controversy or taking on the senior leadership of the party at the time.

Kapia dominated the front pages of the country’s national newspapers with his controversial statements, and he was probably the only Namibian youth leader who came close to becoming our very own Julius Malema.

At the time, the PYL stood united and had a common voice, which automatically made them a great force to reckon with.

Kapia was known for being a great mobiliser and had the skill to lobby people together for a common purpose, and if the party wanted to sell an idea, their best bet was to go through Kapia.

For those who feel that Sam Nujoma was President Pohamba’s kingmaker, then they should equally admit that Kapia was the foot soldier who played an instrumental role in electing Pohamba.

Kapia’s career climaxed in 2005 when he was appointed Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, while he remained the secretary of SPYL. However, his rising political career proved short-lived.

Everything came crashing down for Kapia with the Avid saga, which implicated him in having taken a bribe from an investment outfit that siphoned millions out of the Social Security Commission.

Swapo immediately suspended him as leader of the SPYL and Pohamba eventually sacked him as a deputy minister.

Even after the party concluded its investigations into the matter, and found Kapia not guilty, the vindication was unable to revive what has once been a promising political career.

Today Kapia is a backbencher in the national assembly, and maybe his fate is proof that in Swapo there are no short-cuts, which should serve as a lesson to others.

Alex Kaure
Kaure is yet another citizen whose path and eventual destination has baffled those who knew and worked with him, some twenty years ago.

Kaure, who now writes a weekly analytical column for The Namibian newspaper, was the first editor of the Namibia review, worked in Zimbabwe and for the United Nations (UN) in Liberia.

He was known to most as a very skilled writer as well as a man with a highly analytical mind, judging from the success he has made of the weekly column.

For a person of his talents and exposure he really was a very rare breed on the Namibian media landscape, which is why there is so much disappointment that he did not become much more than he is.

Kaure with the combination of skills, exposure and talent he possesses could have been sitting at the top of any institution in Namibia today, not only for the benefit of himself but also for the benefit of the nation at large.

Albeit the predicament he finds himself in, Kaure still manages to produce his weekly piece that is of a standard and nature to stimulate national debates.

We often wonder what went wrong and why yet another person who promised so much delivered so little.

Gerry Munyama
Munyama during his heyday headed the most powerful media institution in the country, as the Director General of the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.

When he returned to Namibia from the United States, he presented a well-collected image, and people knew him for his appreciation of smart clothes and flashy cars.

From that perception to one of a man standing in green overalls behind prison bars, once again raises the question of what happened.

Under his leadership, people became aware of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), as well as its increasing political importance in an independent Namibia.

NBC at the time was such a respected organisation that people even saw their television presenters, like Hilda Basson-Namundjebo, as society’s role models at the time.

To head an institution like that and run it well, just to end up in prison for an alleged criminal act by people who used to answer to you, is a spectacular fall.

Since his release from jail in October last year, Munyama vowed to become a productive citizen after only having served two years of his ten-year sentence.

Razondora Tjikuzu
In the history of this country we have yet to see a sports icon who like Tjikuzu not only blew all his hard earned money, but also his chances to shine as a sportsman and become an idol of young aspiring football players.

Tjikuzu, apart from his undoubted talent, had the rare opportunity to pursue his football career abroad when Werder Bremen scouts spotted him as a 16-year-old in Namibia.

He joined the club’s reserve team in 1998 and was promoted to the first team a year later, and made 25 appearances in his first Bundesliga season.

He played for Werder Bremen until 2003, when he moved to their Bundesliga rivals Hansa Rostock, for two seasons.

He then spent one more season in the Bundesliga with MSV Duisburg in 2005-2006, before moving to Turkish side Çaykur Rizespor the following season.

He made 140 Bundesliga appearances and scored five goals, his professional history gives some idea of the kind of money he earned in deutsche mark at the time, and later euros.

However today Tjikuzu is retired at the tender age of 33 and has nothing to show for more than a decade-long career in professional football abroad.

On his return to Namibia, he was famous for hiring expensive cars, buying everyone drinks at the bar, and living a lavish lifestyle.

He now resides at the coastal town of Swakopmund, where he hails from and is reportedly bankrupt, making him yet another fallen star.
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