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SWAPO PARTY DOCUMENTS AND LIBRARY
SWAPO PARTY Political Programme

Historical Overview
After more than a century of a long a bitter struggle for independence, in which tens of thousands participated over the generations many gave their lives, Namibia is today a free democratic, sovereign and independent country.

It was the heroic struggle of our forefathers against colonialism and imperialism that provided the necessary inspiration for SWAPO to carry out a modern struggle for national liberation. In this regard, SWAPO pays tribute to our forefathers like Hendrik Witbooi, Samuel Maharero, Mandume ya Ndemufayo, Iipimbi ha Tshirongo and other heroes and heroines of the early days.

With the achievement of Namibia’s independence, the long cherished dream of the founding fathers of SWAPO has been realized. A new era dawned from the dark nights of apartheid colonialism. The achievement of independence has ushered in the establishment of a secular and unitary state whose government institutions, political process and procedures are designed to create a democratic society in which individual rights and popular participation in public affairs are guaranteed in the Constitution.

For all those Namibian patriots who participated in the struggle for national liberation, under the banner of SWAPO, the 21 March 1990 marked the decisive turning point in the history of our country. It is a day when SWAPO fulfilled its historic mission with honour when the founding President of SWAPO and of the republic of Namibia, cde. Sam Nujoma performed the historic and moving act of proclaiming to our people and to the world at large, the birth of the Namibian nation.

As the organized political and military force, which after standing in the vanguard of the struggle for over three decades and whose follows risked their lives in the anti-colonial underground, in prisons and concentration camps, in exile and on the battle front against the apartheid army, SWAPO emerged victorious, thus earning for itself a glorious chapter in the history of this country. The name of SWAPO has become a symbol of faith, confidence and progress. For this reason, Namibia’s young and future generation should know something about the difficult road which the party has trodden since its founding.

The historic development of SWAPO, up to the present time, can be discussed in terms of four important phases. The first of these was the very birth of the movement which was occasioned by the felt need to provide an organizational expression and national platform to spontaneous and scattered anti-colonial activities which characterized our society during the latter half of the 1950’s. These activities took the form of localized about strikes and student and community protests against the specific injustices of colonial rule, such as, land expropriation, the infamous contract labour system and arbitrary township relocations. These activities also found expression in the petitioning to the United Nations concerning South African racist oppression in Namibia. Most significant among these anti-colonial activities was the Windhoek uprising of December 2959 during which several people were killed and many others wounded by the South African colonial police.

With the passage of time, and especially, against the background of the brutal repression of the peaceful anti-colonial demonstration in Windhoek in December 1959, it became clear to Namibia’s then budding nationalist leaders that they could not possibly conduct an effective struggle against the ruthless apartheid colonialism without a political organization that was capable of providing leadership and direction. In response to this demand, SWAPO was formed on 19 April 1960, submerging one of the then active anti-colonial groups, namely, the Ovambo People’s Organisation (OPO) and, subsequently, the Caprivi African NationalUnion (CANU). These two organizations came into existence on the initiatives of Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and Brendan Simbwaye respectively, both of whom are contemporaries of Sam Nujoma and therefore, belonging to the legion of pioneering Leaders of Namibia’s national liberation movement in that they were among those who have had enough courage and foresight to respond positively to be demand of the time and rose to the occasion to arouse to action a people that lived a life of political apathy and mistrust of its own and strength to shake off the yoke of colonial oppression.

After its founding, SWAPO spent months discussing with other anti-colonial organizations in the country about possible forms of cooperation in the common struggle against foreign domination. The discussions produced little concrete results as far as the mounting of joint action was concerned.

Therefore the embryonic movement immediately focused its attention on the consolidation of its organizational structure in the country through the establishment of regional branches and external offices. It also launched a programme of recruitment by which scores of Namibians were organized and sent abroad for academic education, military and technical training during the first of the 1960s.

Frightened by the deepening and broadening dimension of SWAPO ‘s liberation activity, the apartheid regime resorted over more brutal methods of repression. One such a measure was the banning of all public meetings in the country in December 1963. Scores of SWAPO activists were also subjected to repression in the form of dismissals from jobs and schools, banishment to remote corners of the country and house arrest. Furthermore, the regime began to use more and more the notorious colonial strategy of divide and rule in an effort to frustrate the activities of the liberation movement. In this regards, Pretoria set up the Odendaal commission in 1964 to draw up a plan for the balkanization of Namibia into several Bantustans, the so called homelands.

As the dialectics of repression and resistance intensified, it became necessary for SWAPO to advance the struggle to a new phase, namely armed struggle. This phase started with the training and establishment of underground guerilla cells in the country. One such as a cell was the Ongulumbashe base, at which the first shorts of the liberation war were fired on 26 August 1966. Thus, the latter half of the 1960s saw sustained efforts by SWAPO’s guerilla army, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) to reinforce its ranks with more and more recruits and to build up caches of arms and ammunition in various parts of the country.

To counter this process, Pretoria rounded up many of the leading SWAPO leaders, including Comrades Andima Toivo ya Toivo, Eliaser Tuhandeleni and passed the draconian terrorism Act to try them and condemn them to decades of incarceration on Robben Isand.

But, while the enemy was tightening her grip on the movement inside the country, the leadership abroad called a SWAPO Consultative Congress at Tanga, Tanzania, during the months of December and January, 1969/1970 to work out a new programme of action for the intensification of the struggle on all fronts. The Congress adopted several resolutions important among which was the creation of new organization structure, such as, wings.

Among the other wings that were created at the Tanga Congress were the SWAPO Youth League, the SWAPO Women’s Council, the SWAPO Elders Council and the national Union of Namibian Workers as an affiliate organization. This important development marked the third phase of SWAPO’s historical evolution. The streamlining of the movement’s organizational structure was accomplished by the decisions and directives for the movement to step up its political work with a view to intensify and broaden the struggle on al fronts. Such decisions and directives, which formed the movement’s programme of action of action, were communicated to SWAPO activities in the country through its underground network.

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SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura