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Morbid symptoms in the interregnum of a crisis

By Paul T. Shipale
In his last column that appeared in the Windhoek Observer of Friday 22, March 2013, Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari quoted the Italian Political theorist, Antonio Gramsci, from his selection of Prison notebooks (1971), when he wrote that "The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time for monsters.' More important, Hengari said, Gramsci also goes on to write:' the crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.'

Hengari then went on to elaborate that the morbid symptoms in our country are both structural and systemic. The structural are a consequence of the inability of the independent state to sufficiently dismantle the economic infrastructure of the colonial apartheid state, which explain the issue of inequal ity while the systemic stem from the inability of the state to emphasize smart government as a means to militate against the worst excesses of apartheid past, including violence and greed. As a result of the (in)capacity of the state to deal with these patterns, new pathologies and morbid systems of engaging the republic have crept in such as nepotism and corruption.

These are powerful words indeed but they sound like an article entitled "The ANC hard road to travel" that appeared in the March's edition of the New African Magazine by Xolela Mangcu. In the said article, Mangcu said the ANC is facing a severe crisis of leadership, citing as an example the internecine leadership battles which have put to paid the selfdelusional concept of South African exceptionalism-the idea that South Africans were beyond the corruption that has plagued other African countries since independence. Mangcu asserts that the energy that was galvanised to oppose the apartheid regime is now turned towards eliminating rival comrades who might have pretensions to the nation's till.

It is flabbergasting to note the propensity of those who dip their hands into the public kitty. Indeed, it is astounding that some fell for the luxury that came with money and are spotted wearing Breitling watches worth R250, 000 ($30,000), guzzling expensive booze and strutting lavish parties while the poor and homeless froze to death in cold winter and scavenging for expired food from dustbins and all we have for them are political claptrap.

After quoting Gramsci, as Hengari did, Mangcu advised that 'if the ANC cannot find a race and ethnic transcendent leadership and politics', it will be replaced by those who will be able to lead the country in the second decade of the 21st century. In the South African elections fixed for April 2014, a danger for the ANC going into 2014 is that the coalition that supported Zuma in his bid to oust Mbeki fractured and now there are many 'walking wounded' members leading to a further fracturing of the ruling party into tiny but even more vicious factions.

Another danger is the plan to form a new coalition consisting of most political opposition parties such as the Inkatha Freedom party (IFP) in Kwazulu Natal province; the break-away Congress of the People (Cope) party from the ANC after the Conference in Polokwane in 2007; the UDM in the Eastern Cape; the DA in a joint effort with the Independent Democrats (ID) in the Western Cape Province; the all-white right-wing Freedom Front Plus; the new trade union AMCU; the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa, and the South African Democratic Teachers' Union.

This coalition of political opposition parties is in cahoots with the assistance of academia, churches, civil society, the corporate mainstream media, industry, capital and mining. There has also been speculation about the possibility that former Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel and South Africa's former Ambassador to Argentina, Tony Leon-would be part of the opposition coalition to challenge the ANC in next year's elections.

The idea is to bring all of these forces to oppose the ruling ANC. The new platform launched by Dr Mamphela Ramphele's Agang SA, would most likely form the unifying entity to structure this new coalition under its umbrella, wrote Udo Froese, a political analyst and columnist based in Johannesburg, South Africa, in an article entitled "Destroying the ANC" that appeared in the Southern Times of Sunday 24 March, 2013.

Nowadays, the tentacles of imperialism are sugar coated and come under different guise. Cautious against this trend, the question that begs for an answer now is; will the South African experience be replicated in the rest of the SADC region? What transpires in South Africa does not necessarily translate into the same thing happening elsewhere because these represent different dynamics.

Nevertheless, it is true there are invisible forces trying to dethrone the liberation movements from power. Therefore one is never cautious enough. Lest we forget, the occupation of Namibia, the then Germany South West Africa, had been an objective of the Cape Parliament since the 1870s forming part of a broader and largely unsuccessful expansionist strategy aimed at Portuguese East Africa and ultimately at the British territories of Bechuanaland, Basutoland, Swaziland and the Northern and Southern Rhodesia.

Nothing will stop the same powers to re-colonize the sub-region through the backdoor as we see it happening elsewhere in Africa. This week at Menongue in Cuando Cubango Province in Angola, we celebrated the 25 Anniversary of the victory of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale that helped to dislodge the apartheid occupation forces from Africa.

"Looking back today we know that our victories and successes have been the result of our collective unity and solidarity, the purposeful unity that remains one of the principles, values and ethics at the heart of SADC which became a timeless fitting response to the pressure of brutal military attack to which the frontline States were subjected by the apartheid regime resulting in considerable measures of economic destabilization" said the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe.

"To their credit the leaders of the frontline states refused to be cowed into giving up to the brutalities of apartheid. They remained resolute and unwavering in their determination to bring about the complete liberation of Southern Africa, bravely maintaining their support and solidarity with the liberation movements who were then fighting for their independence and majority rule" concluded the firebrand Zimbabwean President.

In this regard, I want to applaud the remarks of the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Kaiyamo and the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Loide Kasingo when the latter questioned why the same people were occupying all the posts and when the former questioned why should we now act as if we subscribe to the infamous 'Nyamu notes' which were aimed at destroying the party from within when some still refer to the coined derogative name of 'Omusati clique'. To prove this point, the last editorial of the Windhoek Observer entitled 'sore losers' said that Outapi is 'the Headquarters of the infamous Omusati clique'.

It is inconceivable, that experienced journalists would by their puerile and uninspiring antics fire salvos bristled with outright misrepresentation. Their mediocre analyses are not helping but only serve to add fuel to the already volatile situation.

In fact, this analysis was shot down by the well attended belated Independence Celebration at Outapi which was addressed by the Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Hage Geingob, who at a similar event in Tsumeb reiterated his call for inclusivity and a multicultural approach.

I count on the wisdom of the current leadership of the ruling party to unite the flock and make sure that no one will feel left behind. I count on the 'voice of reason' of the party's SG, uncle Mbumba, 'to promote solidarity and common objectives within the party as well as strengthen the democratic culture which the SWAPO Party fought for' as he promised before his election as SG.

Speaking of SWAPO SG, as far as the issue of him attending Cabinet meetings, I see nothing wrong with it. Even in the oldest democracy of the United Kingdom there are Ministers without portfolio and one such Minister is also the Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, the Right Honourable Grant Shapps. Nevertheless, it would make sense if the President appoints the SG as a Minister without Portfolio to enable him to attend cabinet meetings freely.

We are reminded that the object of team leadership is to build the kind of a leadership formation that is so linked to the ranks of the party, and so representative of the party because of the standing that the collective leaders have as a team, that the leaders can carry the movement through the stresses and strains, the ups and downs, the twists and turns that go with the total process of revolutionary activity, without throwing the movement into convulsions.

I agree with Hengari that we should address the root causes of the ills in our society including the ethnic and tribal issue through an inclusive and ethnic transcendent leadership and politics as a matter of urgency and manage this transition prudently without flinching nor showing too much muscles, lest the whole transition is aborted by the morbid symptoms in the interregnum of a crisis. I hope that the good tidings will start after the sad and painful birth pains the Nation experienced since the beginning of the year. Wish you a happy Passover weekend.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of my employer and this newspaper but solely reflect my personal views as a citizen.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura