Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Statement by Dr Hage G. Geingob, President of the SWAPO Party on the Occasion of the 7th Congress of the SPWC
"Comrades, there is no true social revolution without the liberation of women. May my eyes never see and my feet never take me to a society where half the people are held in silence." These are the moving words of Thomas Sankara.

During this week, where we are mourning one of human history's most iconic revolutionaries, the late Comandante En Jefe Fidel Castro, it is befitting that as cadres of the SWAPO Party, we should honour the memory of this giant, by rekindling the flames of our revolutionary spirit with the full knowledge that our struggle is only halfway complete.

As we fight the economic phase of the struggle, we speak of inclusivity and that nobody should feel left out. We certainly can't talk of economic emancipation if we leave out half of our population. Women suffered triple oppression. Inside their homes they suffered the oppression of patriarchy. Outside their homes they suffered the oppression of apartheid simply because they were black. At the workplace they suffered the oppression of gender inequality simply because they were female.

We fought side by side to defeat apartheid. We fought side by side to amend and implement laws which recognize the equality of women. We now need to fight side by side to defeat the patriarchy that continues to oppress women in the home, in the workplace and society at large.

The women in SWAPO were at the forefront of the implementation of the 50/50 principle. They say a chicken that knows it will be eaten at Christmas will never vote for Christmas. In SWAPO, men are not chicken. We voted for 50/50 as we know that the empowerment of women is not the disempowerment of men. Those men who are under this mistaken impression are chicken!

Thanks to SWAPO, we have increased Namibia's representation of women in politics to No. 2 in Africa. Cabinet has women in powerful positions due to skill and not tokenism. They are there because they were the best candidates, not because they are female candidates. As the Head of State, I can corroborate that the women in SWAPO are making us proud. I always knew this as the Director of the United Nations Institute for Namibia. I must share a secret today and admit that women were more diligent students than men! Please, what happens in Keetmanshoop stays in Keetmanshoop! Women are delivering, not just babies at home, they are delivering results wherever they are. It is not fair to allow talent to go to waste!

As you start the process of electing your leader, it is time to reflect on the role of the SPWC. A bird cannot fly without its wings. SWAPO cannot fly without its wings. The wings of SWAPO are the SPWC, the SPYL and the trade unions. The wings need to start moving so that SWAPO can fly. We do not need to wait for elections to be active, we need to work hard for elections but work harder when campaign is over in order to deliver to the people who elected us.

In a democratic party, it is normal to contest for position. In life, it is normal for one person to emerge the victor. In defeat, it is normal for factions to be sad that they lost. However, we will never move forward if we don't accept democracy and unite in order to support the victor. Let us never isolate talent merely because they exercised their democratic right to support one candidate over the other. United we stand, divided we fall! I do not wish to create the impression that only women fight each other. Men are worse! Men gossip about each other and politically destroy each other as well. All I request is that we start looking at the interest of the party over the interests of individuals.

Before we conclude, let me raise the issue of Gender Based Violence. It has become hard reading the newspapers as every day, there are new reports about women and children being killed, raped and assaulted. The physical, sexual and psychological torture that women face in private and public spaces requires urgent intervention. The police are only able to police the streets but it appears Namibians need to be policed in the home as well. The SPWC needs to be at the forefront of fighting this oppression as it is limiting women from taking their rightful place in society.

In parting, I wish you a constructive Congress. As we head into the festive season, I also wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Please be safe on our roads. Please be safe in your homes. With these words, I now have the honour to declare the 7th Congress of the SWAPO Party Women's Council, officially open.

SWAPO, United! SWAPO, Victorious! NOW, Hard Work! 

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