Cablegate: Namibian Opposition Fears Zimbabwe-Style Political

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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

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

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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

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.


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

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.

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