Namibia: I Was Happy When RDP Was Formed – Kazenambo Kazenambo

The Namibian Windhoek Denver Kisting
Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com

FIREBRAND Swapo politician Kazenambo Kazenambo has let the cat out of the bag – he is going to vie for the vice-presidency of the ruling party at its congress next year.

True to form, KK – as he has come to be known – did not mince his words when he told The Namibian on Sunday: « I have not heard about [anyone] interested so far. I have been approached by many to stand for it, and I favour myself for it. »

Unless the game of politics delivers surprises, KK says he does not expect President Hage Geingob to be challenged at the helm of the country’s former main liberation movement after the 2017 Swapo congress.

However, KK was adamant that a repeat of the 2004 happenings will be unacceptable. That three-horse race set the stage for the late Swapo stalwart Hidipo Hamutenya (HH) to form the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), KK says.

What « should have been a process of consolidating democracy » gave rise to barbarism and savagery, which « went beyond political mudslinging », he charges. « It was a missed opportunity, and I may have been one of those who became personal. »

Instead of playing the ball, the man bite the dust, KK says.

This introspection has led to the former minister, renowned for his controversial statements, to tender an « unconditional apology to HH and meme Nangula (HH’s widow) ».

Paying homage to what he refers to as a man who brought humility and civility to Namibian politics, KK confessed at a wake at the Hamutenya residence in Olympia that he had failed the 77-year-old politician, who passed away recently.

Politics has become a dirty game, especially following Swapo’s 2004 landmark congress where HH was ousted from taking over the party, KK says.

« During the 2004 congress, we crossed boundaries and became personal. [It became] unethical, while it should not have been a game for barbarians and savagery. We should avoid playing the person, and stick to playing the game. »

Those who were bitter but now allege his posthumous apology to HH is not genuine, suffer from amnesia, KK states categorically. « It looks like people have short memories. I stood in parliament at the height of it when HH was vilified. I stood and said HH was my hero. » This led to him being vilified too, KK says.

But, he says, the hands of the Hamutenyas et al. were equally not clean. « HH’s side threw stones too. »

Also, HH – like everyone else – was not perfect. « HH was a shrewd [and] cunning politician. God forgive him. »

Contextualising his plea for forgiveness, KK says he did so on his own behalf.

Many might be oblivious to the fact that HH very often was his saving grace when he was both an Otjiherero translator and later a journalist for the Swapo mouthpiece, Namibia Today, KK says.

Frequently, he would phone HH in the middle of the night to help him when he was struggling to put the paper together during HH’s tenure as the minister of information and broadcasting shortly after independence, he stated.

This man, without a doubt, was « the voice of the voiceless » and « the embodiment of patriotism », KK adds.

HH put his life at risk, and endured discomfort during the heat of the liberation struggle when Swapo was « the party of death ». « HH never wavered. He stood firm in the thick of it. »

Climbing into the current-day tendepreneurs exploiting the ruling party, Kazenambo says these days, people join Swapo for tenders and to find jobs.

When the RDP stepped onto the political landscape, he was overcome with joy, KK reveals. « Personally, I celebrated. I was happy when the RDP was formed. »

The former official opposition was birthed after « we had created an environment where they were seeing it; they were living it. They were being humiliated, patronised, lost jobs – simply because they supported HH. We can pretend today that that didn’t happen. »

Despite being privy to what was unfolding at the time, KK says he let his hero down by opting to remain quiet and not speaking out against it.

« [I should’ve stood up and said] ‘We are going too far.’ I chose to remain silent, and I am taking responsibility [for that]. The RDP was created by me. By Swapo, because we created an environment where others were no longer able to breathe. »

The three-horse 2004 structure subsequently appeared to have been staged, KK says. « I will not again be part of politics of vilification and name-calling which are not within the parameters of international standards and norms. It is our duty to set higher standards. We may differ, but let us have mutual respect. Politics is not an end in itself. Human relations should prevail. There is always a tomorrow. I don’t think in 2004, we behaved as if there would be a tomorrow. »

KK furthermore hails Geingob for having set the record straight that HH had not sold out. « Hidipo sold out to whom? If HH sold out, then it was Swapo who sold out. I am very glad that President Geingob brought an end to this nonsense. We cannot build a nation on falsehoods. »

Moreover, no one will dare challenge Geingob’s stance – firstly, because it is the truth and, in the second instance, no one has the guts to challenge a Namibian president. « Fortunately or unfortunately, we don’t challenge presidents in Namibia. Many of us are just hypocrites and puppets. »

Apart from denying that he was ever a hibernator in Swapo, he stated that « it is easier said than done » to fight a party from within in any case. « Every game has got rules and injuries. Even soccer has injury time. We are in injury time. Let’s take stock. The intention of politics is not to injure, but to serve. »

Upon enquiry about KK’s apology as well as that of vibrant academic Joseph Diescho, ambassador Tuliameni Kalomoh, the spokesperson of the Hamutenya family, said: « I have not heard if [the] family had a coordinated response to KK and Diescho’s apologies.

« But some individual members regretted that [although] such apologies were welcome, it would have been better if they were made while HH was alive.

« Others felt the apologies must have an impact on those who inflicted pain on HH’s family, and that was appreciated. This view was expressed by the younger and more enlightened members. »

KK ON MINORITIES

KK says African and Namibian gays – like everyone else – are children of the continent and country.

« In all African languages, it is there. These people are African, or were they manufactured somewhere else? If you are not homosexual, why are you bothered? Let us share the space. Let us co-exist. Let us have mutual respect. Let us respect diversity. They are not competing to occupy someone else’s space. »

He then goes on to call for the implementation of mechanisms « to accommodate diversity ». Hatred, he says, is no solution. « Not even to the haters. Hate is a dangerous disease. You are suffering. You are sick. Liberate yourself from hate if you want to enjoy life. Whenever hate creeps in my heart, I fight it 24 hours. It cripples you. »

In the same vein, the plight of the marginalised and ostracised San community, the disabled and the poor are close to his heart, he says.

« I am a product of human rights’ oppression and suppression. I am in a very, very privileged position to turn down government jobs. There are people without alternatives. Their alternative is death and poverty. »

KK’s sentiments have been welcomed from heavyweights in the human rights’ arena.

Human rights’ expert and law lecturer at the University of Namibia (Unam) John Nakuta says: « Very refreshing. Progressive and consistent with the twin rights of equality and non-discrimination. »

Toni Hancox, director of the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), says: « His comments made me smile. I am glad to see that slowly, the tide of intolerance is changing…  »

KK says he is « very, very active » in the private sector, especially in the construction and retail sector, and part-time politics. In spite of his aspirations to return to active politics full-time next year, he says this year, his focus will remain on his business ventures.

This man, without a doubt, was « the voice of the voiceless » and « the embodiment of patriotism ».

« What « should have been a process of consolidating democracy » gave rise to barbarism and savagery, which « went beyond political mudslinging », he charges. « It was a missed opportunity, and I may have been one of those who became personal. »

« I will not again be part of politics of vilification and name-calling, which are not within the parameters of international standards and norms. It is our duty to set higher standards. We may differ, but let us have mutual respect. Politics is not an end in itself. Human relations should prevail. There is always a tomorrow. I don’t think in 2004 we behaved as if there would be a tomorrow. »

« During the 2004 congress, we crossed boundaries and became personal. [It became] unethical, while it should not have been a game for barbarians and savagery. We should avoid playing the person, and stick to playing the game. »

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