President Geingob's Speech at the SWAPO Party 57th Anniversary
By His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob
President of the Republic of Namibia and President of the SWAPO Party
SWAPO Party 57th Birthday Celebration Rally
April 22, 2017
Otjiwarongo, Otjozondjupa Region
- Director of Ceremonies
- Members of the SWAPO Party Politburo and Central Committee
- Members of respective SWAPO Party wings
Let me begin by wishing the SWAPO Party a belated 57th Birthday. I congratulate all cadres, those who are here today and those who are not here, for having contributed to the rise and rise of SWAPO. SWAPO has entrenched itself in the Namibian psyche, as the only party that can truly call itself a party of the people. It is a party which is inclusive and welcomes all Namibians. It is the party that completely understands and grasps the concept of One Namibia, One Nation.
2. The importance of the SWAPO Party
Our 57th Birthday Celebration is a celebration for all Namibians, old and young, because it is the SWAPO Party which delivered the ultimate gift to the people of Namibia - The Gift of Liberation. Che Guevara once said, "I am not a liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves". Therefore, SWAPO has always been a people's organization. An organization spearheaded by people who engineered their own liberation.
3. History of SWAPO
The appalling conditions experienced by black workers in Namibia under the inhumane Contract Labour System, administered by the Apartheid South African Regime, served as a catalyst for the metamorphosis of SWAPO. Namibian contract workers in Cape Town, led by Cde Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Andreas Shipanga, Emil Apollus and others, formed the Ovambo People's Congress (OPC) in 1957.
In 1959, OPC was transformed into the Ovamboland People's Organization (OPO).
a. Primary objective of OPO was the total removal of the repressive Contract Labour System.
b. Second objective was to ensure that Namibia was placed under UN Trusteeship. This would be the first step towards liberation and ultimately, independence!
The following year, on April 19, 1960, OPO was transformed into SWAPO.
4. Mobilization, Diplomacy and Armed Struggle
SWAPO's objective was clear right from the beginning. It was to ensure the liberation of Namibia and all Namibian people, in the words of Brother Malcom X, "By Any Means Necessary". Those means would be political, diplomatic and military in nature.
- In order to initiate a successful struggle against the brutality of Apartheid South Africa, SWAPO knew that it had to unite all Namibians and cultivate a spirit of Nationalism amongst the people, in order to counter the divisive policies of Bantustans, and to fight the common enemy as a united people.
- SWAPO took the first steps towards making the case for Namibia's independence, through petitioning at the United Nations. SWAPO was the first movement which brought the case of the oppressed Namibian people before the international community, when Prof Mburumba Kerina, then SWAPO Chairman, Rev. Michael Scot and Ismael Fortune, appeared before the Fourth (Trusteeship) Committee of the United Nations General Assembly. And that is what led to the birth of the 'Child of International Solidarity'.
c. Armed Struggle
- Following the farcical situation, when on July 18, 1966, the International Court of Justice failed to rule on the legality of Apartheid South Africa's occupation of Namibia, due to a technicality, one of our valiant sons declared that we would be our own liberators and that "we would cross many rivers of blood before we can achieve our freedom". The armed struggle was subsequently launched on August 26, 1966.
At this juncture I would like to quote the late iconic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commandante Fidel Castro, who said the following, "A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past." When the first shots were fired at Ongulumbashe that fateful day, we had reached the point of no return - we had entered a struggle to the death. A struggle between a future in which we would determine our own destiny as a sovereign people and a past in which we would languish in the misery of Apartheid, Bantustans and Contract Labour Systems. Indeed it was a struggle to the death, and SWAPO became the first movement to mortally wound Apartheid South Africa!
5. SWAPO in an independent Namibia
Due to its dynamic leadership and position as a broad-based national mass movement, SWAPO was able to quickly transition from waging armed struggle to being the ruling party in a free and independent Namibia.
a. During the struggle, SWAPO fought for the interests of all Namibians. After Independence, SWAPO continues to fight for the interests of all Namibians.
b. The Legacy Continues - Peace, Stability and Prosperity - SWAPO's vision is to expand and spread opportunities for growth and prosperity. SWAPO believes in an inclusive society and that is why we have worked on programs such as NEEEF.
c. Implementation of Namibia's development priorities.
d. We pride ourselves on our unity, peace and stability. We believe in the Rule of Law. This is what the valiant sons and daughters of Namibia fought and died for!
e.SWAPO's main priority now is to spearhead the second phase of the struggle. The struggle for economic emancipation. Just as we were successful in the first phase of the struggle, we will again be successful in the second phase.
6. SWAPO's unity is its strength - The Legacy Continues
Mahatma Gandhi said the following about unity, "Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking".
- We are living in a time when former liberation movements are under attack from all kinds of enemies, both internal and external. It is only the unity amongst comrades and cadres that will ensure that we continue to evolve as a people's movement. I believe SWAPO has a unity which can stand the severest strain without breaking.
- We face many challenges - political, social and economic but no challenge, no pressure, no strain can wipe away 57 years of milestones, successes and most importantly camaraderie.
a. The Legacy Continues
- This camaraderie is evident in the relationship which I share with my predecessors, Founding Father of the Namibian Revolution, Cde Sam Nujoma and Second President of Namibia, Cde Hifikepunye Pohamba. That is why we are able to enjoy the continuation of a legacy of leadership in SWAPO.
- All that I have narrated here today would not have been possible if it were not for the exemplary leadership of the Founding Father Cde Nujoma. His determination and non-wavering commitment to the cause was the catalyst for the successful struggle against Apartheid South Africa rule. Cde Nujoma, through his inclusive and non-tribal approach to leadership, had a unifying effect on SWAPO. Even during the darkest days of the struggle, Cde Nujoma would be our torch bearer, leading us through the darkness towards the light at the end of the tunnel. These are the same leadership qualities that enabled Namibia to adopt the policy of reconciliation following independence, under the Presidency of Cde Nujoma. It was Cde Nujoma's inclusiveness and reconciliatory approach which allowed peace to thrive in Namibia.
- Similarly, Cde Hifikepunye Pohamba, through his leadership as SWAPO Chief Representative to East Africa and Secretary of Finance, displayed wisdom, fairness and impartiality that served SWAPO well during those tumultuous times. These leadership qualities were once again on display during his tenure as President of the Republic of Namibia when he consolidated the gains we made under the Presidency of Cde Nujoma and brought stability to Namibia.
- Now Yours Truly has taken up the baton to continue this glorious legacy of the SWAPO Party by taking Namibia towards an era of prosperity.
- Through the establishment of the Presidential Council, this Legacy Continues. Our most recent meeting was on Tuesday. I will not divulge what we discussed but I will say that it was an extremely fruitful engagement and I thank them for always being available to meet with me.
- This sort of unity of leadership is unique to Namibia. Nowhere else in the world will you see such respect, courtesy and trust between a sitting President and former Presidents. This is the SWAPO way.
- As we move forward, ready to face the challenges that lie ahead, let us not face the challenges as individuals or groups, let us face them as SWAPO, the people's party, the party you can trust.
Happy 57th Birthday SWAPO. Happy 57th Birthday Comrades.
SWAPO UNITED, SWAPO VICTORIOUS, NOW HARDWORK!!