SWAPO United, SWAPO Victorious, Now hard work...

Get Involved

Sign Up Donate Networking Have Your Say

Join my SWAPO online community, to share your vision of a better Namibia, participate in discussion forums, and receive regular updates by e-mail.Make your voice heard: Tell the world about your views and suggestions. Write to newspapers, call in to talk shows, share your experiences of the first fifteen years of freedom, and how working together we can do more.

Zoom In
SWAPO Party, the political home of the     Namibian people.
Election Results
Election Fever
Politics of defection and who really Hidipo is!
The November National Assembly and     Presidential Elections
The Namibian playing the race card
"The hate speech has to stop"
Elections count-down
Namibia Communications Bill
Electoral College
Ya Nangoloh a "Pathological liar"
Namibians prepare for the upcoming     Presidential and National Assembly elections
National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo)
By Asser Ntinda

The future of one of Namibia's opposition parties of the apartheid era, the National Unity Democratic Organization, NUDO, hangs in the balance, a year before Namibia's next Presidential and National Assembly elections take place. NUDO is plagued by many divisive problems. Among those problems dogging it are infighting and divisive bickering which stem from this year's elective congress. Many serious political observers have already written it off as nothing but a tribal association led by Chief Kuaima Riruako At that elective congress, NUDO's former Secretary General, Arnold Tjihuiko, suffered a humiliating defeat when he failed to retain his position, giving way for Meundju Jahanika. It appears the two have never forgiven each other. "Unity slogans and friendship declarations" were simply faked to project an image of a "united party that has just emerged" from the congress. Bitter blows are still being exchanged in the tribal corridors, almost a year after the elective congress has already receded into history.

The young turfs want to kick out the old guards, but the battle seems to be tough. Chief Riruako is adamant that he still "has what it takes" to steer the party out of the quagmire he has landed it in. But others think otherwise, citing the Chief's inability to raise the party beyond "Hereroland."

Young educated people these days no longer think along tribal lines. And they will not vote for NUDO just because it is predominantly Herero. They want a party that is deeply rooted in the nation, not in a tribal community of sort. The young ones are voting with their feet these days, flocking to SWAPO Party en masse.

That is Ruruako's current headache. It also defines his encounters with the young turfs within his own party. Riruako surrounds himself with die-hard tribal lords whose world begins and ends in Aminuis. These tribal lords' inability to translate NUDO beyond the Herero community is what is irking the young turfs, most of whom are now saying they could have waited to take a cue from the DTA young turfs who successfully managed to get rid of their old guards who had already been squeezed dry by the former apartheid regime of South Africa, which used them as puppets to prolong Namibia's independence during the colonial era.

For the NUDO young turfs, it is an uphill battle. DTA's Katuutire Kaura was not a hard target. He was a soft one. He had no traditional armchair to fall back on. When the axe fell, it fell straight on his head. And he fell forever. Riruako is a "traditional chief." Or so he claims. But he, too, is not a traditional chief of repute. Many people in that community look at him as an arrogant old man who had imposed himself on the community that did not want him in the first place.

Riruako became "chief" with the help of the apartheid regime of South Africa, with which he religiously collaborated to prolong Namibia's independence. It is this collaboration that is his own undoing today. It is this collaboration, too, that has made NUDO irrelevant to the needs and aspirations of the Namibian people in general, and his own community in particular. That simply spells the death of NUDO, as Namibians no longer look at themselves as this or that tribe or ethnic group. That may also be a blessing in disguise for Tjihuiko, taking comfort in the understanding that the party that ousted him as its Secretary General also has its days numbered.

Namibia's political landscape has no place for tribally inspired associations rebranding themselves as opposition political parties. NUDO started as a progressive movement in the 1960s, having been formed in September 1964 by the Herero Chiefs Council who had unceremoniously fallen out with the South West Africa National Union, SWANU. Since then, it slowly but surely started skirting around the apartheid regime of South Africa, which at that time was busy balkanizing Namibia into homelands, following recommendations by the notorious Odendaal Commission.

NUDO's attempts to endear itself to the apartheid regime came at an opportune time for Pretoria, which was busy coercing tribal chiefs to form "political parties" in their areas of jurisdiction. The main objective of this arrangement was to stifle SWAPO's mobilization capacity and organizational networks in such homelands, using such chiefs to instill fears in their subjects. Sure enough, NUDO, under the leadership of the late Clemens Kapuuo, joined an internal arrangement that excluded SWAPO. In 1975, it joined the Turnhalle constitutional talks, eventually joining the DTA in 1977, with Kapuuo as the DTA's first alliance President.

As part of the DTA, NUDO took part in the 1989 UN-supervised elections. At that time, Kaura was NUDO's Chairman. He and NUDO's legal advisor, Fanuel Kozonguizi, were among the DTA's 21 members of parliament. NUDO was among the parties which shared the N$100 million slash-funds which Pretoria distributed among them prior to the implementation of Resolution 435 to ensure that SWAPO did not win the 1989 elections.

But Namibians were not fooled by the money. They knew who the puppets were and who the true freedom fighters were. The outcome of those elections amplified this, and SWAPO went on to form the first democratically elected government in 1990. Politics, as they say, is not always smooth-sailing.

Relations between and among the alliances that formed the DTA went from bad to worse each succeeding year, culminating in NUDO breaking away from the DTA in 2003, further weakening the DTA. After long court battles spearheaded by the DTA which did not want NUDO to break away it was registered as a political party in 2004 when the DTA lost its legal battles in court.

Thus, what we are seeing these days is nothing but the logical and natural cause of its death. It has outlived its purpose for which it was created. Its biggest success is that it has survived thus far. Revelations that NUDO now survives on cash loans owned by one of its leaders may be startling to the uninitiated, but to sharp observers, those are signs of a dying tribal association. Bickering and squabbles between Tjihuiko and Jahanika are signs of bigger things to come.

In short, NUDO has lost its soul and sense of purpose. Nothing can be done to revive it. With celebrated master-puppeteers murmuring on the sides, and diehard tribal lords conducting the orchestra in the background, it will not be long before the boat capsizes. And none among them will be smelling of roses.


SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura