In a hard-hitting and frank speech, the president of Swapo and Namibia, Dr. Hage Geingob, said Swapo admits mistakes, but the 7th congress is resetting the compass towards accountability.
“We did not hide or run away from our failures, but will face the future for a prosperous Namibia, more united and more determined.
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Here follows the statement by His Excellency, Comrade Hage G. Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia and of the SWAPO Party on the Occasion of the 7TH Congress, 25 November 2022, Safari Hotel, Windhoek
Comrades and Distinguished Delegates to the 7th SWAPO Party Congress, convening under the Theme: “SWAPO Party United and Marching Towards Socio-Economic Development for All Namibians”
Today is the culmination of all your hard work. Today is the day we open the door to the future. Today is the beginning of another impactful chapter in the illustrious legacy of the SWAPO Party. Once again, the SWAPO Party stands on the verge of history.
Having achieved an unprecedented milestone in democratic contestation and thereby shaping the future of our nation’s political landscape, we are poised to usher in a new era. Over the past several weeks, we, as party cadres have upheld SWAPO’s reputation as an impactful and trend setting political movement. While others may talk of democracy, we have forged it, we have walked it and we have lived it.
In one of his inspiring statements, “History Will Absolve Me” (“La Historia Me Absolvera”) a friend of Namibia and of SWAPO, the Cuban Revolutionary and “El lider maximo” of the Cuban people, Comrade Fidel Castro in 1953 said:
“The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their hearts, nothing can isolate them – neither prison walls nor the sod of cemeteries. For a single memory, a single spirit, a single idea, a single conscience, a single dignity will sustain them all.”
I stand here before you with pride as the third President of our movement on this very important occasion of the 7th Congress of the SWAPO Party, to advance the collective values and ideals of SWAPO, which have sustained us all since the founding of our movement on the 19th of April 1960. I see before me cadres, united in ideals, sharing a single memory, a single spirit, a single idea, a single conscience and a single dignity.
I stand here before you as the third President of the Republic of Namibia, walking in the footsteps of a rich legacy. A legacy which commenced under the leadership of the Founding President of SWAPO and of the Republic of Namibia, Comrade Sam Shafishuna Nujoma, which was continued by the second President of SWAPO and the second President of the Republic of Namibia, Comrade Hifikepunye Lucas Pohamba.
I would like to thank my two predecessors, both illustrious luminaries, for their commitment to advance the shared ideals of the SWAPO Party.
Ideals that strengthen the unity of our nation in defense and protection of our hard-won freedom and independence, for the prosperity of all the Namibian people.
I stand here before you as an internationalist and a Pan-Africanist, deeply conscious and profoundly appreciative of the fact that the SWAPO Party’s successes witnessed today, are a result of international and African solidarity from our brothers and sisters across the globe.
Some of these countries are represented here today by sister liberation Parties, which stood with us during the dark days of Namibia’s struggle for freedom from colonial occupation. We remain eternally grateful to you for our freedom. We welcome you with warm revolutionary greetings to the 7th Congress of the SWAPO Party as our Special Guests of Honor.
We welcome our Comrades from Cuba, who supported us during the liberation struggle and with whom we fought decisive battles at Cuito Cuanavale.
We also welcome our Comrades from the MPLA in Angola, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) from Tanzania, Frelimo from Mozambique, our Friends and Comrades from Zambia, Botswana Democratic Party, ZANU-PF from Zimbabwe and the African National Congress (ANC) who fought with us against apartheid.
We further welcome, our friends and Comrades from the Communist Party of China, Workers’ Party of Korea – our friends and Comrades from the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Polisario Front, United Russia Party, Palestine Liberation Organization and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from Germany. We thank you for your presence.
We are here today to continue the SWAPO Party revolution of fighting for the total economic liberation of all Namibians. Today, we bear witness to the resilience of the SWAPO Party as a successful liberation movement, founded to fight against an oppressive Apartheid regime. SWAPO led Namibians to glorious freedom on the 21st of March 1990. Thirty-two years later, we are standing tall as the Governing Party, rallying in unity through our motto of Solidarity, Freedom and Justice, putting shoulder to the wheel to ensure as part of the Second Struggle for Economic Liberation, the prosperity and unity of all Namibians in a stable and peaceful Namibian House.
Only a matured political party in which the rank and file is united in conscience, spirit and action can lead Namibia. Therefore, only SWAPO can lead Namibia to prosperity. Only SWAPO has the ability to transform Namibia as we have done since independence. The Namibia of today, is not the same Namibia of 32 years ago, which was characterized by poverty and oppression of the majority of our people. The Namibia in which we live today, is worlds apart from apartheid Namibia under colonialism.
I always say that it is easier to build than to destroy. Let us continue to build Namibia with the SWAPO Party as the agent for building the Namibian House were all Namibians, whether black or white can live happily together. Yes, we still have the unfinished business of housing delivery, employment creation for our young people and poverty eradication. Only SWAPO can complete these tasks and achieve the overall mission of prosperity for all Namibians -because SWAPO believes in the dignity of the Namibian people.
For SWAPO believes in the unity of all Namibians, into a vibrant and peace-loving nation, irrespective of race, religion, sex or ethnic origin.
Our revolutionary journey has not been without challenges and pitfalls. Our leadership as a movement of the Namibian people has been tested by adversity. Yet due to a solid foundation, we have demonstrated the resolve to withstand sudden storms that threatened our movement throughout its 62-year history. We have endured and remained resilient due to our unity of purpose, which has sustained us and spurred us on through thick and thin.
Our longevity is attributable to the fact that we have always adapted to change and we were able to reinvent and modernize SWAPO to remain the vanguard, the sole and authentic representative of the Namibian people, during the liberation struggle and after independence. In the early 1960s, we commenced the work of building SWAPO as a truly representative liberation movement of all Namibians and a formidable force to lead the armed and diplomatic struggle for the liberation of Namibia.
We had reached a point where in the words of the late Plan Commander and First Chairman of the SWAPO Military Council, Comrade Peter Nanyemba, “We had to become our own liberators and we had to cross many rivers of blood before achieving our freedom.” Indeed, “it was a long and bitter struggle,” as espoused by the late Comrade Andimba Toivo ya Toivo. The rest as they say is history.
As we prepare for policy deliberations and the elections of national office bearers for the SWAPO Party at this watershed 7th Congress, I should touch on the so-called question of disunity within the SWAPO Party, which has been exaggerated by certain elements and so-called media commentators during the past five years. For the past 60 years, I have been a member and one of the leaders of SWAPO under the tutelage of Comrades Sam Nujoma, Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo, Peter Mweshihange, Maxton Josef Mutongolume, Lucas Pohamba, David Meroro and lastly Comrade Hendrik Witbooi.
Therefore, I have witnessed the storms, the internal convulsions and the existential threats, which almost destroyed SWAPO. If we are to be honest as the rank and file of SWAPO, for the sake of history and posterity, we should count the 1976 Shipanga Rebellion, the Spy Sagas of the 1980s; the formation of the Congress of Democrats (COD) in 1999 under Ben Ulenga and Ignatius Shixwameni; and the formation of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) under the leadership of Hidipo Hamutenya, as among the most divisive and difficult chapters in the history of SWAPO. Yet, SWAPO overcame and stood firm, united as one.
During the past five years of the current leadership of the SWAPO Party, we are yet to witness senior leaders of SWAPO leaving to form their own political parties. Therefore, we should not believe the prophets of doom who say that there is disunity within the SWAPO Party. When Comrades experience defeat at a Congress because the delegates have chosen others instead of them, and they find themselves outside the structures of the SWAPO Party, it should not be interpreted as division and disunity. On the contrary, it is part of the democratic process, which we as members and sympathizers have agreed to entrench in the Constitution of the SWAPO Party.
The Marxist Revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin, the first Head of Government of the Soviet Union once warned: “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” As Party cadres we should heed the call by Lenin by remaining vigilant and not start to believe the lies and untruths that are told repeatedly about us by biased editors and half-baked analysts to the point where we become the ones to believe them. We are far from being a divided Party and we are far from being a Party in crisis.
We are the vibrant SWAPO Party whose objective is to unite the people of Namibia, irrespective of race, religion, sex or ethnic origin, into a democratic and peace-loving nation.
We cannot be a divided Party if we are the ones who champion the project of nation-building since independence. We cannot be a divided Party if we are the ones who initiated the policy of national reconciliation through which we dismantled the tribal infrastructure of ethnic Bantustans and racism. We have a track record of bringing those who oppose us into Government in order to build and not to destroy.
As we gather today, as leaders and representatives of all the structures of the SWAPO Party, from districts to regional executive committees, from the wings of the Party to the Central Committee and the Politburo, we recall what the great freedom fighter from Guinean Bissau and Cape Verdean, Amilcar Cabral said: “Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories.” As the Governing Party, our challenges over the past 5 years and specifically since I assumed office as President of the country in 2015 have been well documented.
We did not mask our difficulties; we did not hide our mistakes and we did not hide where we fell short. Neither did we claim easy victories. On the contrary, the SWAPO Party, which is built on the sacrosanct principles of integrity and truthfulness to the revolution, has been at the forefront of building a united Namibia.
Our country traversed a period of economic headwinds because of a commodity crisis from 2014, resulting in a steep decline of Government revenue from 2015; repeated droughts between 2016 and 2020, which were recorded to be the worsts in a century. At the time when we were hoping that there was light at the end of the tunnel in the form of projected economic recovery from 2020, an unwelcome visitor arrived on our shores on 13 March 2020, in the form of the devastating Covid- 19 global pandemic.
This unprecedented global health crisis disrupted our socio-economic architecture and our way of life. We lost fellow countrymen and women, and outstanding comrades, including our venerable Deputy Secretary General Comrade Marco Hausiku, Comrade Veno Kauaria, Comrade Mandela Kapere, Comrade Alfeus Muheua and many other dedicated rank and file of the SWAPO Party. To date, a total of four thousand and eighty (4 080) Namibians lost their lives due to Covid-19. May their souls rest in peace.
Despite the tragedy and devastation caused by Covid-19, because of the effective leadership that we have been able to provide through the SWAPO Party led Government, we successfully pushed back against the worst effects caused by the virus. This we did by imposing temporary lockdowns; rolling out vaccines; providing much needed medical equipment and supplies, estimated in excess of 2 billion Namibian Dollars. For the lockdown period, the Government also availed a once-off cash payment of 750 Namibian Dollars to more than 500 000 eligible citizens affected by Covid-19. Our Covid-19 strategy was lauded widely as on par with the best in the world.
The 2014 SWAPO Party manifesto on which we were triumphantly elected in November 2014 did not factor in a depleted fiscus due to the commodity crisis and subsequently the worst droughts ever recorded in Namibian history. Similarly, the 2019 SWAPO Party Manifesto did not anticipate the fact that a mere two months after our victory at the polls in November 2019, our nation would be grappling with an unprecedented health pandemic that threatened to tear our nation apart. We had to implement the Harambee Prosperity Plan I and II within the context of these intervening external variables, which are not of our making.
However, as the Party of choice for the majority of Namibians, we have navigated successfully through these challenges that can be considered to have been the worst since our nation attained independence in 1990.
We were successful in averting major crises because we have processes, systems and institutions that serve as the bulwark of our Effective Governance Architecture. We were successful because we are a disciplined political party that marshals Namibians to hold hands and to pull together in the same direction.
We are a Party that believes in Effective Governance for service delivery to our people. Therefore, the fight against corruption is not an elephant in the room that we refuse to discuss. We have a history of taking a strong stance against corruption. It is the SWAPO Party led Government, which set up the Anti-Corruption as an empowered institution to lead the fight against corruption.
Recently, the Government launched the 2021-2025 National Anti- Corruption and Action Plan (NACSAP), which builds on the work we started over 20 years ago by promoting processes, systems and institutions of integrity, accountability and transparency across all spheres of our Governance architecture.
Whenever corruption reared its ugly head, we took decisive action. Even with the so-called Fishrot in November 2019, as President I immediately removed those who were implicated from Cabinet. Today, they are in jail awaiting trial. As a Party, we also stated publicly in 2020 our position with regard to “Fishrot” and initiated a process to strengthen our own due- diligence and internal party-funding mechanisms.
We should make a distinction between perceptions about corruption and the prevalence of corruption in our country. Our judiciary is independent and our prosecution system is free from political interference, which makes Namibia to be listed by Transparency International and many other indicators as one of the best-governed countries in Africa. Therefore, as members of the SWAPO Party we should remain vigilant and defend our movement against lies and untruths that are said about us.
Notwithstanding the challenging fiscal position prevailing in our country due to slow economic growth, the SWAPO Party Government has over the past seven years increased social protection for the most vulnerable sectors of our population. In 2016, we increased the old age pension from 600 Namibian Dollars to 1 300 Namibian Dollars. A month ago, we increased the disability grant from 250 Namibian Dollars to 1 300 Namibian Dollars. We continue to provide grants to orphans and vulnerable children, as well school feeding programs and Food Banks.
All these grants amount close to 8% of our national budget and reach about 1 million Namibians. Furthermore, during the years of drought, the Government rolled out disaster relief of over 2 billion Namibian Dollars to affected communities. There is no doubt that the beneficiaries of these interventions appreciate these efforts, which have allowed families to make ends meet and to pull through the past difficult years of commodity crises, droughts and Covid-19.
A detailed report will be provided by the Prime Minister on Government performance. However, I have to mention these interventions because untruths, such as the SWAPO Party being indifferent to the well-being of the Namibian people are told. On the contrary, SWAPO is the people and the people are SWAPO. We shall not waiver in our determination to serve Namibians.
The past eight weeks of campaigns for the positions of Vice President, Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General and candidates for the Central Committee who joined the presentations in the regions have demonstrated the innovative character and democratic ethos of the SWAPO Party.
In that vein, I have to thank the respective candidates and Regional Coordinators for the esprit de corps and camaraderie that they displayed during the regional campaign meetings in all the 14 regions of our country. You commenced meetings by holding hands, flying the SWAPO Party flag of unity high, commencing early in the morning and finishing late at night. As candidates, you all deserve our collective revolutionary praise for your fair play, for playing the ball throughout and not the man or woman.
I also reserve a special word of thanks for you Congress delegates, who sat patiently for long hours, listening to the presentations and interrogating the candidates about what they have to offer for the respective positions. Once again, the SWAPO Party has written another impactful chapter in grassroots based democratic practice in Namibia.
Instead of applauding an innovative process that was beyond reproach and a clear demonstration of strength and unity of the SWAPO Party as a democratic force to be reckoned with, shortsighted analysts and some media questioned why the process was not open to the public.
My answer is this. Why should an intra-party process in which Congress delegates are the final arbiters be open to the general public? Is it because they wanted chaos? The chaos, the cracks and fault-lines they were looking for did not appear. This is SWAPO, we are a disciplined political party with a proven track record.
The elections on Sunday for the second most senior leader in the SWAPO Party, who is likely to be my successor and our Party candidate and champion for the 2024 Presidential elections will be a first for SWAPO and Namibia regardless of the outcome. For the first time in our history, our future President will likely be a woman should one of the two female Comrades win. Also, should the male candidate win, we will have for the first time in the history of the SWAPO Party and Namibia a potential future President who was never in exile. This shows that we have been proactive in making history and we have set a number of benchmarks for others to follow.
Irrespective of how the election for the position of Vice President turns out, we are now opening another great chapter in the history of the Party and the country. Furthermore, no matter what the result, we must shake hands, congratulate the winners, embrace each other as comrades and commence the process of working together to take our country forward.
As I have said repeatedly, whoever emerges victorious has my support and I will work with the team to usher the SWAPO Party into a new era.
To unite and to lead the Namibian people in the accomplishment of the Second Struggle for Economic Freedom, with prosperity for all being the end result, we must firmly uphold the values of the Party. We must constantly improve on leadership capacity at all levels in order to provide effective services to the Namibian people.
Our primary concern should be the overall needs and happiness of the Namibian people and not the fight for positions premised on careerism, tribalism and selfish personal interests. The challenges of the past decade have told us that we should never become complacent and this 7th Congress is yet another opportunity for us to recognize our short-comings in order to emerge stronger and ready to conquer the hearts and minds of the Namibian electorate in 2024.
I am confident that when I complete my contract with the Namibian sovereigns on the 20th of March 2025, our country will be on better and solid ground to meet the aspirations of the Namibian people in their march towards Vision 2030 and prosperity for all.
The massive potential of Green Hydrogen and the discoveries of oil to transform the landscape of our country and the well-being of our people through accelerated economic growth, widespread business and employment opportunities is huge and real. We should work with optimism to realize these projects.
As a nation recovering from a rocky chapter, we should be encouraged by the green shoots on the horizon. In a world determined to find solutions to reducing its carbon footprint and to fight climate change, Namibia holds the potential answer and with that answer comes the promise of shared prosperity.
It is said that a leader is “one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” Comrade Sam Nujoma knew the way, went the way and showed the way towards liberation. Comrade Hifikepunye Pohamba knew the way, went the way and showed the way towards stability. Yours truly knows the way, has gone the way and is showing the way towards prosperity.
We now stand at the doorsteps of history, ready to walk down the passage towards a new era of immense promise. This weekend, we will choose those cadres who will take the SWAPO Party and Namibia down this new passage. I am confident that whoever emerges victorious, will know the way, will go the way and will show the way towards a stronger SWAPO Party, a more resilient and inclusive Namibia and a future fulfilled with promise and potential, thereby completing the mission of shared prosperity as a common good.
I wish you all good luck as we commence the work of the 7th Congress of the SWAPO Party.