Namibia has a new opposition political party. It is the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) launched over the weekend by former foreign minister Hidipo Hamutenya. He was fired in 2004 as foreign minister of the SWAPO-led government after he decided to run for president against then President Sam Nujoma’s chosen successor Hifikepunye Pohama.
Already, the ruling SWAPO Youth League says it has proof the new party is bankrolled by foreign donors. Phil ya Nangoloh is Executive Director of the Namibia National Society for Human Rights. From the capital Windhoek, he toldVOA the launching of the new RDP party was attended by huge crowds.
“There were quite a lot of people such that a stadium that was intended for 10,000 people, it was more than two-thirds full. So that was between 6 to 7,000, and that is unheard of in Namibian history that a leader who is viewed as opposing the veteran SWAPO leader Sam Nujoma can draw such a large crowd of people. That is unheard of,” he said.
Ya Nangoloh said bread and butter issues drove so many people to come witness the founding of a new party.
“It means that people are really and sick and tired of what has been going on in the country, things like unemployment, things like the education system is not working, the health system has run down, and the water system is not working. It was actually bread and butter issues that drove so many people to come to listen to HH also know as Hidipo Hamutenya,” Ya Nangoloh said.
Hamutenya was fired in 2004 as foreign minister of the SWAPO-led government after he decided to run for president against then President Sam Nujoma’s chosen successor Hifikepunye Pohama. Ya Nangoloh said Hamutenya has the support of some former cabinet ministers.
“That’s correct. Although not a single one of them showed up at the launch, it is indeed true that HH (Hidipo Hamutenya) has got a lot of support among ministers in the Hifikepunye Pohama’s government at the moment,” He said.
The ruling SWAPO party Youth League has accused Hamutenya’s new party of being bankrolled by foreign donors. But Ya Nangoloh said there is no evidence to support the allegations.
“That’s an old wine in a new bottle. The SWAPO party of Sam Nujoma is characteristic of things of that nature. It has been calling names, accusing others of receiving foreign founding forgetting that the SWAPO party before independence had been bankrolled by the Swedish government. And there are allegations that the new party is also being funded by the Swedish government, which I for one do not believe this is true. And I want to say that SWAPO Party also has been receiving funds from the Chinese government. So this is probably a thing of sour grapes or jealousy or just an intention to discredit the new party,” Ya Nangoloh said.
He said the SWAPO Youth League would like for the chair of the Electoral Commission of Namibia to be fired because he allowed a new party to register. But Ya Nangoloh said the Electoral chair said he will not resign because he has done nothing wrong.