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The 'all-inclusiveness' political hodgepodge

By Paul T. Shipale
The so-called political 'all-inclusiveness' concept proffered by the Columnist Alfredo Hengari should be rejected as a sham and fraud that it is. Before I addressed that issue, let me talk about President Pohamba when in one of the local weekly newspaper, he addressed the issue of democratic principles, and said that he was put to test and had to emerge one hundred percent democratic. The President said, at the just concluded Central Committee (CC), when he found that the majority of the members had different views from his; he was able to listen when the majority has spoken. The President further said that he feels he does not have the right to dictate to either individual members of the party or organs of the party such as the SPYL, the SPEC, the NUNW or the SPWC. In other words, the President decided not to pursue his views and instead opted to follow the views of the majority contrary to some concocted stories from campaign surrogates in spin rooms who will stop at nothing to implement their sinister plans.

On his part, in a presentation to the 5th Congress of the SWAPO Youth League, on 30 August 2012, the Premier Nahas Angula, said the SWAPO Party is built on strong democratic foundations where members decide in a democratic exercise who their next leaders shall be and urged the leadership of SPYL to fight the Anti- SWAPO tendencies that attempt to pollute democratic processes through Anti- SWAPO Constitution's behaviours promoting regionalism, ethnic solidarity, and other negative tendencies.

Indeed, the columnist Alfredo Hengari, in reference to the race for the vice-presidency of the SWAPO Party, said that "today there are three candidates- a woman and two men. Two represent the 'same regional and ethnic geography', while one is rooted in SWAPO's geography, but with 'a different ethnic background''. Hengari then called on the nation to see one candidate's camp as 'inclusive', and the projection of cross-ethnic unity. Beyond a certain point Hengari's narrative becomes prickly and unsubstantiated by evidence.

This is the man with a hoitytoity attitude who calls others 'those who did not see the light of a classroom' and now talks about inclusiveness. For this reason, I agree with the succinct observation in the opinion piece authored by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr. Theo- Ben Gurirab, in the New Era of 11th September 2009.

The speaker said, referring to the claims by SWANU, some of these intellectuals "...tend to analyse more often than not from subjective cultural rather than empirical perspective" and concluded that they were simply " retrospective reassurance conundrum psychology" of these 'intellectuals' who are now wondering what they could have done while dangling on the blame game. They couldn't network nor had they a clear political mind and plans and most of them by 1962 had already moved on mostly to Europe on scholarships and other ventures leaving the scene while others were hard at work putting their act together…" wrote Dr. Gurirab.

How these 'intellectuals' are stuck in the doldrums of parochial petty tribal politics is mind boggling. According to Hengari, it seems a former women activist and trained PLAN combatant and a former youth activist and Robben Island political prisoner from the then internal leadership, are still not inclusive enough. But didn't a former Robben Island political prisoner become the first president of South Africa and didn't a former guerrilla fighter become Brazil's first female president?

Hengari and all those who like to say the people are saying so and so has no stature as the president, so and so is ambitious and divisive and so and so is a reluctant warrior and lame duck President, should not confuse their 'all-inclusiveness concept' with nation-building.

Traditionally there has been some confusion between the use of the term nation-building and that of state-building. Both have fairly narrow and different definitions in political science, the former referring to national identity, and the latter to the institutions of the state. Nation-building is a normative concept that is evolutionary as it takes a long time and is a multi-faceted process that will proceed differently in each local context and cannot be jumpstarted from outside. All in all, nation-building does not mean looking at people from their ethnic, regional and race background.

Hengari's elastic use of the concept and his analytical ambiguities deserve to be challenged. As I stated before, the so-called all-inclusiveness concept proffered today was specifically rejected as the sham and fraud that it is at the Socialist Activists and Educational Conference held in Oberlin, Ohio, in August 1970, according to Farrel Dobbs. This concept is no surprise to experienced revolutionaries as it has nothing to do with the question of non-exclusion in uniting a broad formation around a single issue because when you speak of political all-inclusiveness, as implied in the concept of "participatory democracy," you are not talking about organizing a united front around a single issue but you are talking about the question of building a political party altogether.

The all-inclusiveness concept attacks the principles of democratic centralism and collective leadership as it stems primarily from a false definition of democracy. Despite the claims of windbags, democracy does not imply endless talk; nor is it a license for undisciplined organizational conduct, as factional hooligans will try to tell you. Basically, under democratic centralist procedures, after a decision has been made in a dispute, those in the minority are bound by the party decision reached by majority vote. Authority becomes centralized through the official party bodies, and the party confronts the outside world with a single policy, that of the majority. Farrel Dobbs narrates to us when the conduct of the petty bourgeois minority opinion took the form of a disdain in the Socialist Workers Party when the petty bourgeois opposition split from the party.

The basic material dealing with the organizational side of this dispute is very well covered in a book by James P. Cannon entitled The Struggle for a Proletarian Party. I recommend it for your careful attention and study.

Indeed, after showing a sneering and contemptuous attitude, a resolution was adopted to cleanse the party from the attitudes manifested by the petty bourgeois minority and to get rid of any discussion club atmosphere inside the party's ranks as well as to root out cynical and smart aleck and disrespect for the party.

Another category taken up in the resolution was the question of clique formations characterized as an unprincipled combination based on personal loyalties rather than political agreement. It was described as seeking rewards within the party for those whose primary loyalty was to the clique.

There is a specific section dealing with the Abern clique in Cannon's book, if you want to learn about cliques, what kind of an animal a clique is, how it operates, what its feeding habits are, what its forms of entertainment are, and other basic zoological information you will get a good idea from Cannon's book. There is also an article by Joe Hansen, entitled "The Abern Clique" which you will find very informative and educational in a number of ways.

Just on the eve of the convention equivalent to the congress here, the Socialist Workers Party leadership learned that the Robertsonite faction was distributing a secret set of documents inside the party. The National Control Commission equivalent to the CC here was given the assignment by the Party of investigating these documents. It obtained them and they were found to constitute a declaration of war on the party. They set forth a perspective of first recruiting people into their faction, where they would be indoctrinated with the Robertsonite program, and then, after sufficient boot camp training, getting them to join the party.

Well, these documents were reported on to the Party, and the Party suspended the Robertsonite leaders for disloyalty. All the minority leaders joined in the attack on majority rule that came in the form of opposition to the suspension of the Robertsonites for their disloyal conduct inside the party.

Does that not ring a bell like a déjà vu? It reminds me of the infamous 'Nyamu notes' before he was expelled from SWAPO. The position put forward by the minority meant that they were demanding special license that would assure them an opportunity to do what they pleased under any circumstance by undermining the whole democratic centralist structure of the party and making a mockery of the democratic principle of majority rule in order for the party to degenerate into a jungle characterized by perpetual factional warfare. By the same token, the demand for an independent press organ, expounding a program in opposition to that of the majority of the party, represented a complete abandonment of democratic centralism and a capitulation to the Norman Thomas type of 'all-inclusive' party which is inclusive of all tendencies sauf the revolutionary. It should be stated that the Party is inclusive only in the sense that it accepts into its ranks those who accept its aims and objectives and not based on any other consideration such as the retrogressive tendencies of tribalism, ethnicity, regionalism, nepotism, chauvinism, etc but to foster a sense of common purpose and collective destiny among all the Namibian people.

The party should proscribe advocacy of wrecking expeditions inside its rank and this also means rejection from party ranks of all agents of hostile groups, and intolerance of divided loyalties. Factional hooligans should not be allowed to run the party down. We all recall when the Office of the President issued a Press Release saying; "Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Namibian Constitution.

However, the right to fabricate stories and spread falsehoods is not. It is even more worrying when such falsehoods are attributed to the Head of State!" noted Dr. Albert Kawana, Attorney General and Minister of Presidential Affairs. Even the firebrand politician and former Robben Island political prisoner, Jerry Ekandjo, had to dismiss as false and untrue rumours that he was considering withdrawing from the race for the SWAPO Party vice Presidency. The same desperate efforts were made to bring an end to Dr Elijah Ngurare's reign at the SWAPO Party Youth League congress.

The proverb that says he who digs a hole for another may fall in it himself best describes some of these hopeless attempts to dig a hole for others through false allegations, and using media hacks in Machiavellian untold deception. For this reason, SWAPO Party Secretary General, Iivula- Ithana, cautioned delegates that they should not regard the congress as a battlefield. She said the congress would come and go, but there would be SWAPO Party and the country to run thereafter.

Hengari's conceptual framework creates an inadequate paradigm. If used uncritically or without appropriate adjustment to square with the prevailing realities of current circumstances, it hedges us into thinking in limiting ways that result in faulty conclusions. I therefore contend that Hengari's conceptual framework is flawed as it attempts to degenerate the party into an all-inclusive political hodgepodge.

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