THE ruling SWAPO Party held a post–mortem on the recently completed Presidential and National Assembly elections during its final Central Committee meeting of 2019.
While officially opening the meeting President Hage Geingob in his capacity as the leader of the told the members that he called for a post-election President’s Advisory Council meeting with the two former Presidents.
“I have been listening. This deep introspection extended itself to various frank consultations and brainstorming sessions with many different groups, including the Top Four of SWAPO, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, Politburo, the Economic High-Level Panel, SWAPO Party Youth League and numerous SWAPO members and sympathisers.
He said the Central Committee meeting is an extension of this post election soul searching and post-mortem of the 2019 elections.
Dr. Geingob’s full address to the members of the Central Committee reads as follows:
I am pleased to welcome you to this final meeting of the SWAPO Party Central Committee for 2019.
I would like to take this moment to congratulate the Secretary-General Cde Sophia Shaningwa and her team of officials, the Founding Father of the Namibian Revolution Dr. Sam Nujoma, Former President Cde Hifikepunye Pohamba, the SWAPO Party leadership, all the SWAPO structures in the 14 regions as well as the wings such as the SWAPO Party Elders Council, the SWAPO Party Women’s Council, SWAPO Party Youth League, The Pioneers, National Union of Namibian Workers and affiliate Unions,
The SWAPO Think Tank, the Ndilimani Troupe and various musicians, the allied SWAPO Party business companies, business people sympathetic to SWAPO, rank and file members, sympathizers and friends. Due to your unwavering loyalty, dedication, revolutionary fervor, you went the extra mile and mobilized a dynamic and successful 2019 Election campaign.
Your laudable contribution and hard work has resulted in securing another victorious election for the SWAPO Party and its Presidential candidate. Thank you!
It was our collective efforts which carried the day, and enabled us, despite aggressive external and internal opposition, to secure a resounding electoral mandate to govern Namibia for another five-year term.
We do not take this responsibility for granted. We are grateful to those who have bestowed their trust in us and our guarantee to them is that their trust is not misplaced. To all Namibians, we assure you, Namibia is in safe hands.
It is only through holding hands, and pulling together in the same direction, that we can overcome the multitude of challenges we face as a nation.
Last week, a young woman, 22 years of age, wrote me a letter sharing her experience and expectations as a Namibian youth.
As I have a habit of occasionally calling some who write me letters, I dialled her number and was fortunate to speak to a confident and intelligent young woman with good ideas on how to build a strong and resilient Namibia.
At the end of the phone call, she told me that she and a delegation of youth would be visiting State House to engage me further. I was taken aback by someone inviting themselves, but I was also impressed in the manner that the youth understand the power of constructive engagement.
I have agreed to this engagement and I will fulfil my commitments from the November Youth Dialogue to hold follow up youth interactions, as well as continue with regional town hall meetings so that we deepen participatory democracy and remain guided by the voice of the grassroots.
When the electorate speaks, we listen. From a 22-year-old who wrote me a letter, to the two former Presidents who I called for a post-election President’s Advisory Council meeting, I have been listening.
This deep introspection extended itself to various frank consultations and brainstorming sessions with many different groups, including the Top Four of SWAPO, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia, Politburo, the Economic High-Level Panel, SWAPO Party Youth League and numerous SWAPO members and sympathisers. This Central Committee is an extension of this post election soul searching and post-mortem of the 2019 elections.
Swapo is not just a party. SWAPO is an identity. SWAPO is a lifestyle. SWAPO is the people and the people are SWAPO.
We have to identify and fix the challenges we face because SWAPO must outlive all of us as the people’s party. None of us are bigger than the party and to ensure the future relevance and role of our beloved movement, we need to come together, hold hands and collectively work towards regenerating the strength of our party.
Our deliberations will shed further light but a brief enumeration of some issues includes:
a) Structural inequality and poverty, exacerbated by an Economic recession;
b) High unemployment, particularly youth unemployment;
c) Prolonged Drought;
d) Corruption, particularly mismanagement and resultant loss of employment in the fishing sector;
e) Intergenerational tensions on succession;
f) Budget cuts which curtailed, inter alia, salary increases for civil servants and uniformed personnel;
g) Slow implementation of decisions i.e. Student funding;
h) The lack of consistent disciplinary measures and absence of effective conflict resolution mechanisms;
i) Factionalism, dysfunctional relationships and disputes amongst comrades;
j) 2017 SWAPO Congress Non-Acceptance of Defeat which birthed an Independent Candidate;
k) Poor communication; and
l) Deployment of comrades in party and government positions who lack the requisite implementation capacity
This list is not exhaustive, and you will all be free to share your views during our deliberations. This is the SWAPO way. We sit down in a civilized manner, robustly engage one another and accept and defend the decision of the collective. You will recall that last week, a local daily reported that I had threatened to fire individual Ministers for their views on their former colleagues who have been arrested on charges of corruption. As usual, that report lacked context and was based on unverified, one- sided information.
I am not against the views of the Ministers. I am however, also not in favour of Ministers who seek to communicate their views in a manner which results in the rest of their colleagues being vilified for abiding to the communication protocols of Cabinet. The truth is that Cabinet took a strong stance on this matter and the impression created in the media is that only these three Ministers were outraged. There is not a single person who is not alarmed, and seeking explanation, of what has happened in the fishing sector. There is not a single person who is not eager for due process to take its course and the truth to be revealed. As an executive, a worrying tendency has emerged of Ministers either criticizing or contradicting one another in public whereas they have a platform to robustly engage one another every Tuesday. I trust these Ministers have taken note how my words were mischaracterized and now understand why I prefer that we speak and act as a collective.
Allow, me at this juncture to say two things regarding the investigations into the fishing sector and the two former Ministers. Contrary to some jurisdictions in the world, Namibia enjoys a clear constitutional demarcation between the legislative, judiciary and the executive branches, which all of us are duty bound to respect.
I have followed the due process of the law and the Namibian Constitution to address the governance challenges in the fishing sector, particularly those aspects which fall within my jurisdiction. Cabinet has resolved to allocate fishing quotas in a manner that allows for the re-employment of the fishermen who lost their jobs.
Cabinet also decided to allocate fishing quotas to all the 14 regions for development purposes, under stringent oversight. Additionally, the Acting Minister of Fisheries has been instructed to start a review of Fishing Quota allocations in general and Fishcor specifically, over the last ten years. This process has already started, and the Acting Minister is to be commended for having held two successful stakeholder consultative sessions in Lüderitz and Walvis Bay and listening to the concerns of the affected communities and stakeholders.
In the next administration, I am looking to appoint Ministers who have the necessary capability to review key sectors in a similar fashion so that any malfeasance can be uncovered and fair allocation methods, which benefit all Namibians, are introduced.
I have expressed, in no uncertain terms my abhorrence on and rejection of what is alleged to have transpired in the fishing sector and took the necessary action to ensure that the two implicated Ministers were no longer part of the Executive. The question of whether they should have been fired or resigned overlooks the crucial outcome that immediate action was taken to ensure they were no longer in their positions to allow for unhindered investigations. As you are all aware, had they refused to resign, prepared letters of dismissal were waiting to be served on them.
I am not a policeman, prosecutor, judge or jailer. For that, I am obliged to allow the criminal justice system to work, unhindered by executive interference.
As we speak, the two Ministers have been arrested and are in jail awaiting their trial dates where they have the opportunity to state their case and be declared guilty or not guilty by the competent authorities. Let us allow those tasked with ensuring a fair trial and due process to execute their duties.
I dwell on this as a disturbing narrative is developing in certain parts of the media that seeks to suggest that the Executive is attempting to interfere in investigations relating to this case. This includes them sending the Presidency requests to comment on absurd allegations, thus placing us in the awkward position of offering no comment or commenting and thereby giving credibility to unverified rumours. To be clear, these insinuations of executive interference in the case of the Ministers are devoid of truth and are part of a disturbing trend of biased reporting which has characterized my tenure. I am an ardent defender of independent institutions, which includes my recognition and defence of the media as the fourth estate.
As leaders, we have no benefit in attacking either the media or the criminal justice system, which includes the judiciary. My suggestion to the media is that in as much as their independence is respected, they too should respect the independence of the criminal justice system and refrain from casting unnecessary and damaging aspersions on its credibility.
The second aspect of my unease emanates from the increasingly personalized nature of the attacks. One of the many children I have raised as my own, called me in a panic on Friday to share that she had been contacted by a newspaper, seeking a character reference and to tell them what type of person I am. In a normal environment, I am certain my children would have been happy to co-operate and easily provide their testimonies.
In this increasingly hostile environment, my children were apprehensive and convinced that the newspaper would not give a fair depiction of who I am. This situation disturbs me, and I raise it as I would like both the SWAPO Party and the Presidency to make a concerted effort to improve our respective relationships with the media. While the media is not shy to share their views, their expectation appears to be that they may not be held to task. Let me be clear. By raising a concern, I am not attacking the media. As I personally reflect on election results, together with the party, I implore the media to also reflect on its role. In this post-truth era of social media, we rely on the media for truth and fairness.
The misinformation that is currently characterizing this case is of concern and the role of the media in truth telling is pivotal. Sensationalism, character assassinations and publication of unverified rumours should not be the default option of a credible media. As SWAPO, we will improve our communication with the media as we recognize that as an area requiring improvement. We too wish to see the media introspect and resolve the challenges that diminish their ability to offer fair and objective commentary.
As the SWAPO Party we will continue to build the Namibian House in which every citizen is welcome and a proud productive resident. We will continue and will be relentless in the struggle for the economic emancipation of every Namibian through accelerated economic development and shared prosperity.
To SWAPO members. Stand firm. Stand Strong. Stand Proud. Defend your party against those who seek to weaken us. The mighty SWAPO party has prevailed through the crucible of the struggle, we have prevailed through various internal crises and we will prevail again.
With these words, it is now my pleasure to open this meeting of the SWAPO Party Central Committee. I wish everyone, comradely deliberations.