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Namibia going the Zimbabwe way

Namibian opposition leaders Hidipo Hamutenya and Jessaya Nyamu said former Namibian President Sam Nujoma was still calling the shots and Namibia was slowly sliding the way Zimbabwe had.

They told United States embassy officials that President Hifikepunye Pohamba had very little influence and could not criticise Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe because Mugabe was a close friend of Nujoma.

Hamutenya and Nyamu both former members of Namibia’s ruling South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO)said they had been ousted from the party leadership because “all African dictators begin by pushing out their peers”.

Ben Ulenga also told embassy officials: “What’s happening in Zimbabwe is only a step away” from Namibia. SWAPO rode both the democratic and dictatorial horses.

The only reason why Namibia had not encountered the same problems as Zimbabwe was that SWAPO was still firmly in power and did not have to behave like Mugabe to maintain control.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 08WINDHOEK235, NAMIBIAN OPPOSITION FEARS ZIMBABWE-STYLE POLITICAL

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Reference ID

Created

Classification

Origin

08WINDHOEK235

2008-07-31 17:20

UNCLASSIFIED

Embassy Windhoek

VZCZCXRO0544

RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN

DE RUEHWD #0235/01 2131720

ZNR UUUUU ZZH

R 311720Z JUL 08

FM AMEMBASSY WINDHOEK

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0001

INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY

RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0133

RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0213

RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC

RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 WINDHOEK 000235

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR AF/S (ELIZABETH PELLETREAU AND GREG GARLAND),

AF/PD, AF/EPS, AF/RSA, DRL

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREL WA

SUBJECT: NAMIBIAN OPPOSITION FEARS ZIMBABWE-STYLE POLITICAL

FUTURE

 

THIS CABLE IS SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT INTENDED FOR

INTERNET DISTRIBUTION. PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.

 

1. (U) SUMMARY: Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP)

senior officials and Council of Democrats (COD) President Ben

Ulenga, in recent meetings with Embassy officials, voiced

their concern that the Namibian government is sliding toward

autocracy under the continued influence of Founding President

Sam Nujoma. Both parties complained of SWAPO efforts to

manipulate elections and claimed that large divisions exist

within SWAPO over issues such as tolerating viable opposition

parties and the crisis in Zimbabwe. In response to questions

on the SWAPO Youth League,s inflammatory public statements,

the opposition leaders described the organization as trying

to say what Nujoma wants to hear to promote their own self

interests. Underscoring opposition fears of Zimbabwe-style

repression, RDP officials were stoned through the windows of

their car on July 11th while organizing a rally in

Okuryangava, a SWAPO stronghold. Nevertheless, the

perpetrators were subsequently arrested. The ruling party,s

demonstrated unwillingness to date to reign in radical and

violent elements in its midst may give credence to the

opposition,s fears of a slide into a Zimbabwe-style

breakdown in the rule of law and rise of political

intolerance as Namibia moves toward elections in 2009. END

SUMMARY.

 

Namibia and Nujoma: Increasingly Autocratic

 

2. (U) On 10 July Poloff and Washington analysts met with

Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) President Hidipo

Hamutenya and Secretary General Jessaya Nyamu at their

headquarters in Windhoek. Hamutenya stressed that they had

formed the RDP in response to SWAPO,s slide toward autocracy

under Founding President Sam Nujoma. Hamutenya and Nyamu

described SWAPO and the Namibian government as still firmly

in Nujoma,s hands, with President Hifikepunye Pohamba

wielding little influence. In reference to their own ouster

from SWAPO,s leadership, Nyamu noted that &all African

dictators begin by pushing out their peers,8 and compared

Nujoma to his close friend Zimbabwean President Robert

Mugabe. Ben Ulenga in a 11 July meeting with the Ambassador

echoed the RDP officials saying, “What,s happening in

Zimbabwe is only a step away8 for Namibia, and that &SWAPO

rides both the democratic and dictatorial horses.8   He said

the reason Namibia has not encountered the same problems as

Zimbabwe is that SWAPO is still firmly in power and does not

have to behave like Mugabe to maintain control. Nonetheless,

he argued the opposition must move strongly against

Zimbabwe-style developments in Namibia.

 

Northern Elections Rigged?

 

3. (SBU) Nyamu alleged that the by-elections the RDP recently

lost in Eenhana had been rigged. He said the RDP was

&shocked8 by the margin of loss and argued it was

statistically impossible that his party had garnered such a

small percentage of the vote. He claimed SWAPO learned how

to manipulate the elections from Zimbabwe. He went on to say

that one way or another, the ruling party would not allow the

RDP to win.   Hamutenya said SWAPO had stuffed and exchanged

the ballot boxes. He also alleged that SWAPO had given a

party owned printing company*Namprint*a monopoly on ballot

printing, which had been instrumental in fixing the vote.

(Comment: Hamutenya was responsible for setting up Namprint

and helping it entrench its dominance in winning ballot

printing tenders when he served in the SWAPO leadership. End

Comment.) He explained that ballots are carried to a central

location for counting and that remains a serious problem for

transparency. (Comment: In an alternate view of the recent

by-election in the North, a close interlocutor in charge of

the Eenhana election told Embassy officials he was confident

that the by-election,s voting and counting activities had

been above board. The official related how the SWAPO

officials present for the counting, including the Governor,

appeared more shocked at the outcome than their RDP

counterparts, having expected a much closer race. End

Comment.) Nyamu said the RDP is planning to consult with

other opposition parties about how to make elections more

transparent. When asked if SWAPO would allow international

election monitors, Nyamu thought SWAPO would permit them and,

now that there is a credible opposition, such monitors are

becoming increasingly necessary.

 

4. (U) Ulenga argued that while Namibia has not reached

 

WINDHOEK 00000235 002 OF 003

 

 

Zimbabwe levels of corruption, like in Zimbabwe SWAPO

manipulates elections at the grassroots level by casting the

opposition parties as tools of the West. Ulenga said that

the common people are still very ignorant, so they believe

whatever the government says, and will not try to find the

answers on their own. He stressed it is key to raise the

political awareness of the people so that rumors have less

impact.

 

SWAPO Divided

 

5. (U) The opposition leaders mentioned that large divisions

exist within SWAPO over issues such as dealing with viable

opposition parties and the crisis in Zimbabwe. Nyamu, after

stressing that Nujoma is controlling SWAPO party matters

despite his retirement, said the Founding President is

allowing the party to be taken over by younger, more radical

SWAPO members, who disrespect intellectualism and have no

minds of their own. The Nujoma faction of SWAPO has

manipulated party elections to downgrade senior SWAPO

officials and ministers, and some party members are unhappy

but unable to speak out. He said there is “much suspicion

within SWAPO,8 with many SWAPO officials accused of being

too close to the RDP. Nonetheless, SWAPO has hesitated to

oust them, fearing these officials would then openly support

the opposition. He also implied that Pohamba would like to

speak out more strongly against Zimbabwe, but cannot due to

Nujoma,s continued support for Mugabe. Similarly, Ulenga

said Prime Minister Nahas Angula and some at the MFA do not

truly agree with the public line on Zimbabwe, but do not have

the ability to stand up on the issue.

 

SWAPO Youth League*Trying To Please Nujoma

 

6. (U) In response to a question on why SWAPO officials do

not try to correct some of the SWAPO Youth League,s (SPYL)

more outrageous public statements, Ulenga described the SPYL

as &an empty drum8 that listens to Nujoma and repeats what

he says. He said that in a recent Parliamentary meeting a

SPYL member made over the top statements that embarrassed

Prime Minister Angula. However, when Angula questioned the

SPYL member, he replied that as a member of the &radical

youth8 he was entitled to speak however he chose; and Angula

subsequently backed down. Nyamu alternately described the

SPYL public line as &chaos,8 and said that the organization

does not necessarily follow instructions from anyone, but

that Nujoma &likes it8 that way, and if theytake their

orders from anyone it would be him. He also described youth

league members as &running dogs8 who try to say what Nujoma

wants to hear for self-aggrandizement.

 

Comment

 

7. (SBU) Underscoring RDP fears of Zimbabwe-style repression,

RDP officials were stoned through the windows of their car on

July 11th while organizing a rally in Okuryangava, a SWAPO

stronghold. Officials suffered bruises and one sustained a

broken arm. Three SWAPO members have been accused of the

crime and their case has been scheduled for October 23,

according to The Namibian newspaper. The subsequent rally

was moved to a new location after police claimed they could

not guarantee security at Okuryangava after the stoning

incident. The police also announced all future requests for

political rallies at the Okuryangava venue will be denied*it

will be telling to see if both SWAPO and opposition rally

requests are denied. On a positive note, the Electoral

Commission of Namibia (ECN) is contemplating new proposals to

strengthen enforcement of the Code of Conduct for political

parties and other measures to ensure the transparency of

elections.

 

8. (SBU) The ruling party,s demonstrated unwillingness so

far to reign in radical and violent elements in its midst

gives credence to the opposition,s fears of a slide into a

Zimbabwe-style breakdown in the rule of law and rise in

political intolerance. Given Namibia,s opposition parties,

inclination toward internal party strife and general

adversity toward inter-party cooperation, it is difficult to

imagine the rise of a viable opposition to the ruling

party,s hegemony in the near term. Nevertheless, the RDP is

the most serious threat SWAPO has had to face since

independence. Moreover, true to Nyamu,s word, on July 17

four opposition parties met at RDP headquarters to discuss

&issues of major common concern surrounding the conduct of

elections in the country,8 according to local press reports.

 

WINDHOEK 00000235 003 OF 003

 

 

 

Mathieu

 

MATHIEU

 

(8 VIEWS)

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