NEFF a Hopeless Bunch, Says Swapo

When Swapo leaders were rubbing shoulders with Epafras Mukwiilongo at the memorial service of former ambassador Andrew Intamba in April at Parliament Gardens, they in all likelihood did not know about his plans to establish the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF).

But as it turned out this week, Mukwiilongo established the new political group and used its launch as an occasion to fire salvos at Swapo, accusing the ruling party of, among others, protecting the ideals of capitalism.

Mukwiilongo, a nephew of the late former governor of Omusati Region, Nangolo Mukwiilongo, says the Swapo-led government protects foreign businesses more than those owned by Namibians.

But Swapo yesterday rejected the accusation, with Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba labelling the new kids on the block as a hopeless bunch of disgruntled individuals who are imitating their South African counterparts, in reference to Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

Mbumba said the allegations made against the ruling party are designed to solicit publicity and sympathy by the electorate.

During the announcement of its establishment on Tuesday, NEFF also claimed there is no party in the current Namibian dispensation that aocates ownership of the means of production by the working class, and the economic emancipation of the nation. Mbumba said such talk is an election ploy.

“They are trying to campaign. They were members of Swapo, CoD and other parties and now they are going around trying to imitate their neighbours [EFF],” he said.

Both Mukwiilongo and his deputy, Kalimbo Iipumbu, are former Congress of Democrats (CoD) members. Mukwiilongo was part of CoD’s national executive committee, while Kalimbo was ranked 17th on the CoD party list prior to the 2009 elections. Mukwiilongo is also a former Swapo member.

While Malema’s EFF has made a notable impact on the South African political landscape, Namibian analysts have cast aspersions on the NEFF’s ability to replicate its supposed sister party of South Africa.

Dr Hoze Riruako of the University of Namibia says he does not expect the NEFF to shake the Namibian political scene just yet.

“It’s one thing to launch a party and another thing to replicate something that happened somewhere else. No political situation can operate on a cut-and-paste basis,” he said.

Riruako questioned whether NEFF leaders indeed come from the same school of thought as that of their South African counterparts.

“Malema was already a force to be reckoned with when he started his party and he was an aantage to the ANC. I doubt these new guys command the same respect Malema commanded when he formed EFF,” he said.

Riruako says he does not see NEFF garnering much support, adding that the new party has a long way to go and therefore expects it to be another “fly by night”.

“Only division within the Swapo Party can really dent its support base, but even that does not guarantee it. Look at Swapo-D, CoD and even the RDP, they broke away but Swapo remains a credible force in Namibian politics,” said Riruako.

NEFF also accuses the Swapo-led government of passing a mining law that promotes, protects and gives access to the country’s mineral resources to foreigners at the expense of Namibians.

Mukwiilongo, who owned shops at Oshakati and Oshikuku, says Namibia is rich and can take care of itself if government can ensure industrialisation and processing of minerals in Namibia.

He also says homosexuality in Namibia is a taboo and foreign.

“The country is facing a major challenge with regard to homosexual practices. Namibia is a country with respect culturally and thus our freedom was attained not to liberate homosexuality but to celebrate and enjoy peace,” he said.

Mukwiilongo was in 2003 listed by the National Society for Human Rights, currently NamRights, as one of 34 people who were at risk of allegedly being assassinated by government agents for their political activism. Other names on the list included Hidipo Hamutenya, Phil ya Nangolo, Tangeni Amupadhi, Gwen Lister, Martin Shalli and Nahas Angula, amongst others.

A few years ago, Mukwiilongo was the chairman of the Save the Local Business Community, which consisted of businesspersons from Oshana, Ohangwena and Omusati regions who wanted two well-known Indian wholesalers to close shop in Namibia because of alleged unfair competition.

New Era could yesterday not get hold of the EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi to confirm whether there are indeed links between the two parties.

Source : New Era