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'Throw out Nyamu's motion'
SWAPO colours fly everywhere

By Asser Ntinda
Several SWAPO Party regional coordinators in the 13 regions have called on the Party Members of Parliament in the National Assembly to reject with "the contempt it deserves" what they call an ill-advised motion by the Rally for Democracy and Progress, RDP, to ban people from "hoisting party flags and symbols" on trees, houses, mbashus and public roads.

RDP's Secretary General, Jesaya Nyamu, tabled the motion in the National Assembly last month, calling for "the use of party flags and symbols responsibly and where appropriate in order to maintain public tranquility and political tolerance" in the country.

But the motion suffered heavy punches in the National Assembly, and it is most likely to be thrown out when the National Assembly resumes discussions next week. Several SWAPO Party MPs questioned Nyamu's motive when it was tabled, saying that the motion's hidden objective was to address RDP's support base, which was dwindling fast.

Most SWAPO Party Regional Coordinators have now added their voices in condemning the motion. Their voices most likely seals its fate in the National Assembly. Namibia Today had spoken to several regional coordinators and none had kind words for Nyamu's motion.

They said that SWAPO MPs should not even waste time entertaining Nyamu's motion, which was solely aimed at making SWAPO Party invincible in the country. If he thought that such a move would breathe life into RDP, he should just forget it altogether, they said. "Nyamu's problem is very clear," said Godhartt Kasuto, SWAPO Party Acting Regional Coordinator for Khomas Region.

"I strongly condemn the motion with the contempt it deserves. RDP was thoroughly beaten in the last elections. Nyamu simply hallucinates whenever and wherever he sees a SWAPO Party flag. He has not forgotten the bruising punches they suffered in those elections, despite their high expectations.

"This motion is therefore nothing but an attempt by RDP to silence SWAPO Party through the National Assembly. We cannot tolerate this. This is a free country, liberated by SWAPO Party. The freedom of expression they are enjoying today was brought about by the SWAPO Party.

"If Nyamu has nothing else to say in the National Assembly, he should just be replaced by a SWAPO Party MP who would contribute more to issues that would benefit many Namibians. Let him hallucinate. We are proud of our Party for what it has done for this country.

Oshikoto Regional Coordinator, Almas Amukwiyu, just laughed off the motion, saying that no serious politician should table a motion like that. He said that RDP was already dead politically and Nyamu was simply trying to resuscitate it through this motion. "The best thing would have been for Nyamu to tell RDP supporters to hoist their flags on their houses," said Amukwiyu. "But Nyamu knows that RDP has no supporters to do so and most of them are ashamed to wear their colours in public because RDP is an empty shell. It's a dead party."

SWAPO Party Youth League Secretary, Elijah Ngurare, was equally un-scathing in condemning the motion, saying that it was just another attempt by Nyamu to reduce the Party's unmatched visibility and the overwhelming support the Party enjoys country-wide.

"This is nothing but a continuation of Nyamu's notes which sought to destroy SWAPO Party from within," said Ngurare. "The notes failed dismally to achieve their set objectives. Now he is going through Parliament to achieve the same objectives. That will happen over our dead bodies."

He said the Flag debate should not even have been allowed by the SWAPO Party majority to be entertained. It was a non-issue and with no bearing on the bread and butter issues of the electorate. In fact Namibians have so many challenges worth debating by parliamentarians.

"So what is next, the opposition bench will propose that Christians should not display their crosses in public?," he asked. "I would appeal to our SWAPO MPs to sponsor motions on national issues such as access to land, banking services, water, electricity, telecommunications, education, health, housing, transport and all other amenities. "They must not sit in parliament to always await the opposition to table nonsensical motions or embarrassing motions aimed at tarnishing the image and credibility of the ruling party. The two-thirds majority given to SWAPO Party by the electorate must not be there for decoration, use it and apply it in both good times and bad times, but at all material times, in the interest of the majority masses of our people, the youth, the peasants, the workers, the elders etc.

He said that those defeated at the ballot box such as the RDP must not be resurrected through Parliament. "If their flag is a shameful caricature and for which their members are not comfortable to wear, why is that a business for SWAPO majority in Parliament?"

When Nyamu tabled the motion, he specifically targeted SWAPO Party, provoking anger and condemnation from SWAPO Party MPs in the House. Most of them interrupted him on a point of information, but he continued reading the motion, drawing more negative reactions from the SWAPO Party MPs.

"We have become intoxicated and addicted with flag flying," said Nyamu. "We need to fight this addiction right away. When a house is decorated with party flags, the message is clear: those who do not belong to the same political party are not welcome to enter. This is madness of political partisanship. "When a business outfit puts a party flag at its premises, the message is clear: those uncommitted or who belong to other political parties are not welcome to buy in those shops. This is a demonstration of a culture based on primitivism and general ignorance which amounts to economic sabotage."

Nyamu called SWAPO Party a "dominant party" several times in his motion. He said that SWAPO as a "dominant party" should not put up its flags everywhere, as this was not in line with the country's Constitution.

"In Namibia, 21 years after our independence," he said, "the flags of the dominant party are still flying everywhere. The dominant party in the country, thanks to its Chinese and Pakistani suppliers of these flags, is behaving as if it was the army of occupation par excellence."

Nyamu specifically referred to several SWAPO MPs who on April 19 this year showed up in the National Assembly clad in SWAPO Party colours to remember the day the Party was founded. Nyamu said such dresses were "inappropriate," adding that his motion was prompted by that incident. "Worse still," he said, "even before the foresaid incident, some members of the same party attended the house dressed in gowns with 'disguised' party colours as if they were suffering from troubled conscience.

"Therefore, lawmakers should avoid turning our house of law making into a platform of political drama," he said, adding that such incidents should not be repeated to avoid "physical confrontation."

Prime Minister Nahas Angula countered him by saying that there was nothing wrong with people displaying party colours of their choice, adding that there was unity in diversity. SWAPO Party Secretary General echoed the same sentiments, backed by several SWAPO Party MPs. SWAPO MP, Lucia Witbooi said that people had their choices to do what they wanted, and should not be interfered with.

"If communities choose through their structures to put up flags on whatever structures they choose, including trees and buildings, it is their choice," she said. "I do not understand why the member (Nyamu) is worried about that. Is it because you have noticed a few flags of your association of choice on trees and you want to interfere with other people's choices?

"Please, note that your motion is a non-starter and has a hidden agenda and cannot be tolerated by freedom loving Namibians like myself. SWAPO Party is rooted in the minds and hearts of many Namibians. They are eager to sustain the Party and its colours."

Deputy Information and Communication Minister, Brian Smataa, said that RDP leaders should not blame the people for rejecting their party, adding that displaying flags was a matter of choice, and people had rights to exercise their freedom.

"Displaying a flag of a party of one's choice does not say that fellow Namibians who belong to other political parties are not welcome," he said. "All that it communicates is that you are welcome. However, take note or be forewarned that I, as provided for in Article 21, 1e of the Namibian Constitution, belong to, in this case, the SWAPO Party."

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Peya Mushelenga, dismissed the motion as illusionary and ill-advised. He said the National Assembly should not be used to limit people's freedom through this motion, which he described as a nonstarter.

"Nyamu appeared disturbed by the hoisting of flags and wearing party colours," said Mushelenga. "He should take wisdom from the judgment by Justice Gerhard Maritz - that the environment in which political expressions are made in Namibia supposes that wearing political party colours is an expression. Nyamu has no choice but to respect the constitutional rights of fellow Namibians.


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