The acrimonious relations between Swapo leaders, evident at almost every public forum in recent months, are incrementally biting into what is left of the party’s fibre.
Insults hurled in parliament this week, during the live broadcast of what is deemed a family television show and therefore accessible to children, was the new low insofar as lack of discipline within the party is concerned.
Swapo must decide how it wants to be perceived by the public – a united party clear on its goals and development agenda or a refuge for anarchists.
Discipline is a virtue of good behaviour. And good behaviour does not necessarily mean agreeing on everything every time. People could disagree but still portray good behaviour – at least in public.
Discord is a natural occurrence in every social setting, but a political party in charge of the country’s affairs must be seen to be united on key national issues. It’s difficult for the public to trust an outfit whose leaders send out mixed messages and therefore seem to be divided on what that outfit ought to deliver in terms of service. In the absence of discipline, the revolutionary vanguard cannot exist, for in that case it would find itself in total confusion in its practice and would be incompetent in identifying the tasks of the moment or living up to the initiator role that the masses expect of it.
Swapo, at its internal fora, must preach the gospel of solving contradictions internally and using the relevant party structures. It is the same as government. We saw a high profile public contradiction between two important ministries last year regarding phosphate mining. The gaffe depicted government as uncoordinated and not knowing what it wants to do on a matter so serious.
The parliamentary confrontations this week are the clearest sign yet that Swapo needs to do something to protect itself, without necessarily having to boot perceived transgressors from its rank.
A united Swapo is good for the country. Party cadres from section level to politburo must understand why it is important for Swapo – with the mandate it got from voters in 2014 and 2015 – to remain united and with eyes firmly set on what needs to be done for the nation to prosper.
Denigrating and fighting each negates President Hage Geingob’s efforts to govern successfully, especially when the very men and women that are essentially his lieutenants in government and the party spend their time on personal feuds.
For Swapo to advance in promulgating the achievement of its objectives, its rank and file should be closely connected in organisational terms and their actions should abide strictly by a well-defined discipline, as outlined in the party’s code of conduct and other rulebooks. True, Swapo is a constituency of multiple influences because of its diverse membership. However, it is important that members all with their persuasions and tendencies represent a homogeneous collective effort when addressing issues related to the national development agenda.
Infighting is counter-revolutionary and breeds disorganisation, which, in turn, could reduce the party to political impotence. The principle of fraternal discipline should be inculcated within members of any political formation worth its salt. It’s how institutions, in any trade, are supposed to function.