10 EDITORIAL Friday, November 24 2017 | NEW ERA 208 0318 Congress more than a sloganeering occasion The Swapo Party Congress, which is underway in the capital, leans more on the side of its elective component, and there is little mention of policyrelated discourse. Yet, the country faces serious challenges such as the sluggish economic growth, job losses, land scarcity and slow foreign investment, among others. Congress is not an occasion reserved for chanting and singing liberation songs. It should not be an avenue for hugs and narration of what happened in the trenches on Angolan soil 40 years ago, as important as that may be to shaping today’s society. Everything has its time and congress should certainly be a ground for in-depth introspection on matters that affect society today, especially those of policy and bread and butter nature. opportunities and challenges and decisively agree on modalities to deal with them. It is disappointing that the build-up to congress has been, almost exclusively, about political campaigns by those seeking positions in the party. It is not clear what issues, if any, the congress is going to deal with – with a view to make life better for all Namibians. There is a difference, a big one, between campaign promises of candidates and what congress, as a collective, would discuss and decide on as far as the fate of the party and country is concerned. Campaign promises are, essentially, the imaginary activities to be carried out once candidates have been elected. Such promises are not part of the deliberations at congress, unless by coincidence. What an average Namibian wants to see is what the party will decide regarding spiralling informal settlements in the country, forced removal of illegal structures as recently witnessed in Katima Mulilo. They are interested to see what kind of directive the party will give to government in order to arrest job losses emanating from various factors, including failure to pay service providers on time. In other words, will youth unemployment enjoy some extended time of discussion? Will the land question eventually be put to bed, given the vastness of our country and the small population wanting a piece of it? There is so much going on in our country, including good things that we can build on with strong policy directives. The election on Sunday, which is often informed by cronyism and patronage than the desire to see positive change in both the party and country, should therefore be at a backburner. Congress is the highest decision-making body in Swapo and should therefore not be let pass wastefully like a fart of baked beans. Allow us to purchase multiple Aweh products once-off I would like to start off by expressing my appreciation for the highly cost-effective, convenient and easy access to mobile connectivity offered by your Aweh product. It is especially of great value to lower income bracket persons, who cannot afford to purchase mobile contracts. However, I think that often people are only able to purcha se Aweh products at the end of their pay cycle and for the rest of the month limit their cell phone usage to the minimum, not because they necessarily want them to. Not only does this limit access to mobile telecommunication experiences, but I believe that it cannot afford to stay connected throughout the month sometimes feel ashamed. Their sense of being “poor’’ is stressed in this instance. Hence the following suggestions: MTC should please adapt the current Aweh offer to enable customers to purchase Aweh products for more than seven days, but pay more it once-off and in advance. The idea is then that the next Aweh cycle immediately kicks in when the current one expires. This offers the potential to further add convenience to your service and will certainly be popular among the people. The following instruction for purchasing is suggested (example): #2 Aweh indicates that the client wants to purchase an Aweh product for two consecutive weeks. In other words, once the instruction is made and payment subtracted, the client will have the current Aweh offer for seven days, as well as for the following seven which follows as soon as the Aweh offer for the various Aweh products already on offer. The number of weeks can be more, depending on the clients’ needs, but could be limited to four weeks to assist those who are strongly dependent on a regular monthly pay cycle. Just think how this may, for instance, help a smallscale entrepreneur who works with the smallest margins. In communities with very high alcohol consumption rates this can reduce the amount of money that people have available to spend on alcohol. Finally, to maintain mobile connectedness, as you may be aware, is also about people’s image and sense of self-worth. I see that this product can assist in this regard too. WG Eiman Keetmanshoop health NGOs to access government funding? Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are major contributors to the delivery of healthcare in Namibia. The last decades have also seen changes within NGOs themselves because of the entry of new cadre of trained technical people and professionals into NGOs. Since the emergence of epidemic diseases such as HIV and AIDS in the mid-80s, a number of NGOs were founded in Namibia and complemented government intervention programmes with funding primarily from foreign donors. This indeed has been commendable. However nowadays, the reality of sustaining work led by these NGOs has become a threat not only to the communities they serve but also to sustain gains made from these programmes on a national scale. While development organisations continue to provide support to sustain some of these interventions, funding has been dwindling. One good example I support industrialisation as a vehicle to help us to grow our own produce and export more than we import. This thing of importing fruits and vegetables like we don’t have enough land to grow our own crops should stop forthwith. The only way we can recover from this bad situation is through industrialisation. We can start smallscale farming and starting selling things like chicken and potatoes to big grocery shops in the country. We have AMTA, is the current funding in Namibia Tuberculosis and Malaria that shrunk US million for the coming three years. A number of NGOs such as the Society for Family Health (SFH) have survived these funding turbulences for the past 20 years with government and its stakeholders only recently making efforts to explore sustainability mechanisms. Undeniably, it has been noted that using any country’s income level as a measure of its ability to sustain a public health response does not consider that country’s willingness and capacity to absorb programmes into its domestic funding and operational structures. Currently, there seems to be no clear mechanism through which government can provide funding for NGOs. With the absence of such mechanisms, NGOs are likely to be defunded in the process of transition from external resources to domestic reliance, risking an end to which is a good programme but the question that remains unanswered is to what extent are our people sensitised on ways to sell their goods? It is high time the ministry of agriculture works hand in hand with these organisations and those to start radically helping small-scale farmers. We don’t want donations for building roads and people who donate the money are the ones who are vital interventions led by NGOs. While Namibia has made efforts to explore the most feasible and affordable mechanism of sustaining interventions funded by donors, efforts have been slow with uncertainty driven by the current economic downturn. Without commitment at the highest political levels, a government funding mechanism, which ensures that local NGOs are able to access public money can be easily delayed by changes in political and economic environment. The increasing interest of many countries like Namibia in “Ending AIDS by 2030” offers an excellent opportunity to secure highlevel political commitment to increase public health NGOs. Taimi Amaambo Country Director for the Society for Family Health. Views expressed are not necessarily those of SFH and its funding agencies Let’s revisit our industrialisation approach getting the tenders to reinvest in their countries’ economies. I think it is time our government changes policies to control the export of raw materials if they really want to grow our economy. Until we stop selling imported stuff and exporting raw materials, we are doomed forever because the way things are looking at the moment is not good. Only we can liberate ourselves from this crisis. Marea Tully Jo
Friday, November 24 2017| NEW ERA 11 thought leaders Ordinary Zimbabweans cannot hail SADC Page 13 Beyond the 6th Swapo party congress In a democracy, the politics of politicians can impulsively be dazed by short-term considerations. Calculations for power, alliance formation with the view to the next leadership election could cloak the life of a political party. It is true that electoral contests for power can feed the vital organs of political parties. But if ambition, the lust for power is not properly channelled, the life of the party can be consumed by the ‘electoral fallacy’. The political calendar could de-align development as a priority. Energy can be expended on campaigns that could divide and not necessarily sharpen cohesion. Fortunately, Team Harambee has made the promise of uniting the party post-congress, and to work better on leadership recruitment and succession planning. Energy can be expended on getting a seat and not allow the life of the party to serve as a platform for mass mobilisation, policy deliberation, review and directing implementation as the party in power. Again, Team Harambee has promised to mobilise party membership, build institutional capabilities, and capacities of militants for leadership and policy implementation. These are essential in mitigating the risks in a broadbased movement and ruling party. The passion and intensity with which Team Harambee had been met in different corners of the country is not solely attributable to the political biography of Hage Geingob. It is also based on the decency of comrades who know too well that the corridor with Team Harambee speaks to what Swapo is – a movement of people, and not a tiny faction to be instrumentalised whimsically. Delegates have sensed that the other side does not have the foggiest idea of what should be done to take the party and the country forward. Likewise, a senior leader who scorched the landscape, questioning the sincerity of the support of senior colleagues in the Politburo for Team Harambee is not temperamentally suited to lead the party and the country. Through these, at least two key points that could be instructive going forward as the agenda of hard work and shared prosperity become more pronounced. First, there are moments when senior leaders in the political bureau or central committee should be able to say that they are not the best man or woman for the job. That moment was lost when two chose to speculatively contest the presidency of the Swapo Party at this 6th Congress. The contest becomes even more dishonest and farcical in light of what Swapo had achieved at the presidential and National Assembly elections of 2014. An increase in its score to 80% and a record Sovietlike tally of 87% for its presidential candidate, Hage Geingob. This evidence suggests that we should democracy to a bubble. Consensus is not an ugly word in a democracy or in the life of a party. It is at the very heart of successful democracies. La République en Marche, the ruling party in France elected a president last week without a campaign to what was effectively a sole candidacy and leadership team. Tony Blair led Labour in the United Kingdom to three successive electoral victories without any apparent internal contest to his leadership. In the developing world, Alassane Dramane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire went uncontested in 2015 as presidential candidate of the ruling Rassemblements des Républicains. Second, there is the question of the context preceding the national elections of 2014. The actions pursued by the winner ought to have made the idea of a sole candidacy for party president in 2017 more obvious, if not more logical. In 2012, when Hage Geingob was re-elected vice president of the party, and its champion for the 2014 national elections, a series of hindsight seem underappreciated by a minor faction, deserve emphasis. At critical moments, a republic must review the state of its democracy, looking into the rearview mirror in order to consolidate frontiers. In 2012, we took giant steps when we ushered in the second republic through constitutional reforms, changing how government was going to work. Singapore, a competent developmental state has gone through such periods, amending the constitution, expanding parliamentary seats at various intervals in order to meet new demands. These arguments might seem behind us. But in light of where we are today, they are live and we should draw strong conclusions. President Geingob has been leading Namibia at a time of financial distress accentuated by the bust of the global commodity cycle. It has forced his leadership to focus simultaneously on crisis management and transformation. Comrades at the sixth party congress will overwhelmingly settle the leadership debate. What should emerge from it is a commitment on behind the leadership team in the interest of executing the electoral promise, and the task of shared prosperity. If we miss that opportunity by opening up new squabbles as it occurred post-2012 with the instincts of the next congress in 2022, our republic will become thinner. It will become a small red dot, and it will eventually die. What is needed at this point is to sustainably reconcile our politics with development. Our postcongress life should be about just that, development. * Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari is a visiting fellow at Sciences Po Paris. He holds a PhD in political science from the Sorbonne. Swapo: The ‘two centres of power’ conundrum Is the call for two centres of power in Swapo an anomaly or an indication of a party that is constantly transforming and evolving in the best interest of its membership, its supporters and the country it governs? In order for Swapo to ensure longevity it should resolve to constantly renew itself and amend its constitution time and again to keep abreast with the times in accordance with the wishes of its membership. The position of state president is one of the great responsibilities and one must keep in mind that the moment one is elected as state president by virtue of the Namibian constitution you become president of all Namibians. In order not to be bias or partisan it becomes necessary that the two are separated. The president of the republic of Namibia is voted by direct, equal and universal suffrage so this clearly suggests that those who vote for the president are not necessarily Swapo members, and it is also plausible that someone who is not from the ruling party can be elected as the president of Namibia. All these are factors that support the notion that having two centres of power may be in the best interest of the party and the country as a whole. The Swapo congress – which kicked off yesterday – is the supreme organ of the party and should move to debate and proclaim itself on the issue of the party candidature for the national elections as addressed in Article IX of the party constitution and Part 3 (53) of the rules and procedures for the election of party How will Swapo Party handle having a party president who is not the head of state? A precedent had been set when Sam Nujoma remained head of the ascended to state presidency. This went on for two years. This smooth transition ushered in a new era of democracy within the party because the two centres of power complemented each other. Before that, Swapo at its extraordinary congress of 2004 resolved to have three candidates Pohamba and Nahas Angula compete to be the party’s candidate for the Namibia general elections slated for later that year. When Pohamba stood as candidate for the 2004 elections he was not the president of the party. According to Article IX of the Swapo constitution, the party president will be its CEO. In the same vein, the president of the Republic of Namibia shall be the head of state and government. These two are equally demanding positions which require a head of state who can run the country with a team of executives for all Namibians, unperturbed by the actual running of the party at whose behest he serves. In the same vein the party president can be an equally competent cadre assisted by the Politburo with its secretaries for transport, economic affairs, labour, etc. ensuring the smooth running of the party. It is an ideal situation that has been overlooked in the past but Vitalio Angula could serve in creating greater the party and the state, with the party being voted directly by the masses and the party dictating to the government on the wishes of the electorate. Another bone of contention which should be addressed at the congress is whether members of the Politburo should also serve in the executive of government. Currently more than 60% of the members of the Politburo also hold executive positions in government and I hold to my earlier argument that these are two equally important portfolios – but when one is on ministerial state duty can one really be expected to serve the party equally? The ideal scenario, given the state the party is in with many of its members being of the opinion that it is in tatters, is to address the administrative deficiencies by moving to separate Politburo members from Cabinet and not allowing members to serve in both. At the same time the party can move to give Politburo members salaries and responsibilities they shoulder. The party has enough resources to guarantee an income for those who dedicate their time and skills to the party but it becomes when the many companies that are owned by the party are used as the personal property of those running the companies, as opposed to being run for the interest of all members of the party. “Two centres of power”, if that is what it is called, can guarantee that. But then again, there is only one centre of power and that is Swapo. So let us rather refer to this conundrum as a “separation of state and party”. * Vitalio Angula comments on political and contemporary social issues.