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From liberation movement to ruling party

By Nkrumah Mushelenga
It has been a fact and it remains a fact that SWAPO shall never be defeated by first the then colonial regime and its western mentors, nor shall we be defeated by all forces of "tribalism, regionalism, corruption, hunger, poverty and diseases."

Hover, we are aware that the struggle for economic liberation which is inclusive of the bread and butter issues, shall be "longer and bitter" than that of political independence. We together the first, second and the third generations of SWAPO leadership shall to the best of our ability, defend the hard won political independence, the values of democracy, and the gradually protracted sustainable struggle for economic emancipation.

SWAPO was formed on the 19 of April 1960, by the then highly and excessive exploited migrant workers, mainly those who were working on "contract labour in the mines, railway and cattle posts looking after cattle, sheep and goats in what was classified as commercial white farms in the south of the country, with two distinctive goals, namely to liberate Namibia from foreign occupation, exploitation and to establish a government based on scientific socialism founded upon the will and participation of the Namibian people.

Some of the founders and the pillars of the SWAPO Party are; Comrades Sam Nujoma, AndimmbaToivoYaToivo, Kahumba Kandola, Lucas Pohamba, Theo- Ben Gurirab, David Meroro, Moses Garoeb, Nathaneal Mahwilili, Hage Geigob, Mzee Kaukungwa, Meme comrades Putuse Apolos, Libertine Amadhila, Hendrick Witbooi and Comrade Namalambo (Kaati -ka Algeria just to mention a few.

The first generation of SWAPO Party Leadership had two distinctive short and long terms strategic objectives focusing on national and international perspectives. The first one being to establish SWAPO Party National Structures inside the country and the second objective was to establish the external structures with the ability to communicate to each other when the need arises. As a result of these structures, the SWAPO Party National Leadership was able to provide a unified leadership inside and outside the country.

Why unified leadership? Comrade Andimba Toivo Ya Toivo at one point in time told us that, "the struggle will be longer and bitter" while the Founding Father of the Namibian Nation and the then Commander in Chief of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) the Military Wing of SWAPO of Namibia, Commandant Sam Nujoma, kept inspiring us with his inspiring words such as "a people united will always emerge victorious."

In other words, with all these definite and predictable characteristics of the liberation struggle, we were convinced that the liberation struggle we were involved in, will be longer and bitter and that only through hard work, commitment and a unity of purpose that we will be victorious in our genuine struggle against colonialism, racism and apartheid.

Whereas for too long our rights include the right of the individual to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of race, colour, ethnic origin, sex, religion, creed or social or economic status, have for so long been denied to the people of Namibia by the then colonial racist apartheid regime, the SWAPO Party National Leadership both inside and outside the country decided to establish two identical and supplemental liberation struggle fronts,namely the political diplomatic and the political armed liberation struggle fronts.

The purpose of the political diplomatic front was with certainty to articulate internally and externally the aims and objectives of the SWAPO Party, and to ensure that the international community of nations understand the reasons why SWAPO Party has decided to confront the enemy on both diplomatic and military fronts and not diplomatic only. Hence our genuine liberation struggle enjoyed overwhelming diplomatic, military and international solidarity support all over the world. Thanks to comrade Theo Ben Guriraba for what you have done for our SWAPO Party, Namibia and for the people of this great nation.

The armed struggle, blessed with the word of the Founding Father of the Chines Revolution Commandant Mao Zedong when he once said, "politics is war without bloodshed" a means of solving conflict without recourse to violence, and also considering the excessiveness of the colonial regime when it came to brutality, exploitation, racism, imprison ment of SWAPO members, destruction of properties including our people's Mahangu fields, the first SWAPO Party National Leadership had no other alternative than to launch its armed struggle to extinguishes fire with fire. Hence, the formation of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) the Military Wing of SWAPO of Namibia.

The purpose of establishing the People's Liberation Army of Namibia, (PLAN) was to ensure that while Comrade Theo Ben Guraba speaks in a diplomatic language, PLAN Combatants under the leadership of Commandants John Nankudhu, Tobias Hainyeko, and later Commandant Peter Nanyemba Ndilimani speak with the staccato of the barrel of the gun. Thanks to the late Commandants, Nankudhu, Hainyeko, Nanyemba, for your "blood waters our freedom."

In order to ensure sustainable correlations between the two national structures, inside and outside the country, an administrative standard was established in preparations to take over the governing system soon as we gained our national independence and established the people's government based upon the democratic values and full participation of the Namibian people.

For these to materialize, the SWAPO Party established the following departments; Foreign Affairs, Defence, Education, Health, Finance, Information, Transport and Labour just to mention a few. The Party's long term vision was characterised by the inbuilt short and long term growth, as such a large number of comrades were sent to study in various fields covering politics, military, education, economics, nursing, labour administration, engineering, pilot, constructions, law, journalism just to mention a few.

Thanks to comrade Nahas Angula and Dr Hage Geingob for what you have done for the Party, the people of this country as the then head of United Nations Institute for Namibia UNIN in Lusaka Zambia and for having led the first SWAPO Party team in 1989 which returned home to establish a formidable team of competent officers and officials to prepare for the first United Nations (UN) Supervised Elections that led to a SWAPO Party overwhelming victory 23 years ago. The selections of candidates to study were done on the basis of the country's needs in terms of expertise, and not on the basis of tribalism or nepotism.

Why? Because all of us were colour blind and we never knew that we were from different tribes or ethnic groupings. We called each other comrades and by then we really meant it. We shared the sense of comradeship;

we shared the braveness of the struggle and were guided by the principles of constructive criticism, solidarity, freedom and justice for all. We were all answerable to our national leaders and were taught to be discipline at all times and to act in unison and comradeship and we knew who our common enemies were.

To qualify and quantify the above statement in terms of the SWAPO Party four (4) top leadership categories and to assure those who are hesitant to believe that SWAPO Party has been and continues to be an inclusive Party, my I be permitted to prove to you that SWAPO has never been a tribal or ethnic or regionally- based political Party.

Twenty first (21) March 1990, the might SWAPO Party became the ruling Party in an independent Namibia. What an excitement! It was not a surprise to us, because we knew that we were decorated with a blessed history, a history of bravery, heroines and indeed of disciplined and committed gallant freedom fighters.

Not only that, Commandant the then Command-In-Chief of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) who was by then also the President of the SWAPO Party, Comrade Nujoma, became the first President of independent Namibia and the Commander-In-Chief of Namibia Defence Force (NDF).

"Their blood waters our freedom" On economic front, the SWAPO Party government has performed extra-ordinary well, considering the era of world economic shrinking and world climate changes. Government has sustainably kept increasing or adjusting social benefits for elderly and disabled persons including orphans. The implementation of free education from grade one (1) to grade seven (7), andthe N$ 20.000.00 and N$ 50.000.00 cash grant and projects to the veterans of the liberations struggle and their dependents, are some of the vivid social and economic achievements geared towards poverty eradication.

Of course, individual political ambitions should not be interpreted as Party's constitutional objectives, but should rather be attributed to those individual members themselves. If it is Mushelenga who is not complying with the party's disciplinary code of conduct, the Party has the mandate and ability to call Mushelenga to order. The SWAPO Party Constitution provides for "constructive criticism."

There are challenges, but efforts are being made to address them.



SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura