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Former Swapo stalwart launches new political party

Staff Reporter

A former Cabinet minister and senior stalwart of Nambia's ruling party, Hidipo Hamutenya, launched a new movement in Namibia on Saturday, promising a different political vision and accelerated economic growth once in power. Hamutenya resigned from the ruling South West Africa Peoples' Organisation (Swapo) and as a member of Parliament last week.

A former Cabinet minister and senior stalwart of Nambia’s ruling party, Hidipo Hamutenya, launched a new movement in Namibia on Saturday, promising a different political vision and accelerated economic growth once in power.

Hamutenya resigned from the ruling South West Africa Peoples’ Organisation (Swapo) and as a member of Parliament last week. He joined the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) which was registered earlier this month by another former Swapo politician, Jesaya Nyamu.

“The time has come for a new approach to politics, away from autocracy and personality cult,” Hamutenya told a small but enthusiastic crowd of about 1 500 people at an open-air community centre at Katutura, a township in the north-western outskirts of Windhoek.

“We are geared to address poverty, unemployment, the sorry state of education and to drive the economy forward,” he promised.

Hamutenya (68) is the RDP’s interim president until its first congress planned for early next year, with Nyamu its secretary general.

“We intend to break Swapo’s two-thirds majority [in Parliament] at the 2009 elections,” Nyamu said on Saturday, adding that “Swapo is stagnant, being in power for 17 years.”

Hamutenya headed the ministry of trade and industry for six years then was foreign minister from 2002 to 2004, when he was fired from the Cabinet by then president Sam Nujoma just four days ahead of a crucial Swapo congress.

No reasons were given for his dismissal.

He was one of the party’s three candidates to succeed Nujoma in 2004, but lost in the second round of voting to Hifikepunye Pohamba, who became head of state in March 2005.

Nujoma (78) who remained Swapo leader, announced in October that he would step down from that position at the next party congress scheduled for later this month.

Nyamu, also a Cabinet minister until 2004 and member of the Swapo politburo, was expelled from the party for “disobedience” after writing personal memoranda on how to break Nujoma’s rule, including by forming a new political party.

The notes, which were locked away in his ministerial desk, were stolen and found their way to the top Swapo leadership. - Sapa-AFP

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