[DEBATE] : Namibia Pan Africanism
Riaz K Tayob
riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Sat Sep 6 03:14:34 BST 2008
Reclaiming the Soul of Pacon
Friday, 5th of September 2008
By Herold Stanley Binda
We have witnessed over the past decade the rise and fall of
pan-Afrikanism in Namibia, under the auspices of the Pan African Center
of Namibia (PACON).
One wonders what should be done to rid PACON of arguably one of
Namibia's longest serving board members, the majority of whom have
served on the board since 2000/1.
PACON has lost vision, mission and is currently driven by minnows that
do not grasp the meaning and content of pan-Afrikanism in contemporary
The powers that be at the once illustrious PACON should bear in mind
that an institution and more critically the ideology of pan-Afrikanism
are far greater than individuals. Nkrumah, Padmore, Du Bois, Hosea
Kutako, and Nujoma, Prof. KK Prah, Dani Nabudere, Chinweizu have all
We are reliably informed that Mr Johannes Tjitjo resigned, amongst the
string of resignations, as PACON Chairperson around 15 July 2008.
The reasons provided for his resignation are unclear but the seasoned
pan-Afrikanists are aware of the disunity and infighting amongst some of
the board members. It has become public knowledge that some in the board
want to become fulltime executive directors, on the government payroll
at Director level. This is a clear case of the height of the battle for
the soul of PACON, more or less like what we witnessed in the ANC
On March 8, 2001 Joshua Kaumbi and Ben Uugwanga, the founding members of
PACON resigned in a fury citing frustrations with other board members.
Kaumbi and Uugwanga maintained that PACON had lost its momentum that was
built after a successful Pan-Afrikan Conference in 1999, and was as a
result of that losing direction.
According to The Namibian newspaper (March 8, 2001): "The two claimed
the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation Chairman (Uazuva Kaumbi), who is a
cousin of Joshua Kaumbi, has been acting autocratically and excluding
other trustees from important decisions made on behalf of the organisation."
At the time, Uazuva Kaumbi maintained that all was well within PACON. He
ascended and became the Executive Director of the "Where Others Wavered"
movie, and was replaced by Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo, the current Deputy
Minister of Education.
Dr Ndjoze-Ojo resigned on 1 December 2004, as PACON Chairperson, citing
a lack of transparency in how the money was being handled, as well as a
disregard for the pan-Afrikanist philosophy of self-sacrifice.
Again, according to The Namibian newspaper reports of 1 December 2004,
the former PACON Chairperson was unhappy to learn that the board had
agreed to increase "sitting fees" for directors from N$600 to N$1 000.
She also highlighted that sometimes cash payments were made without
following proper procedures. Since then, PACON Board members had
co-opted Eveline Shilamba, on pressure from a fellow board member.
Shilamba is a novice who doesn't even have a pan-Afrikan track record,
surely not even as a member of PASS.
Her appointment is still puzzling to all up to this date. Not only that
but notable pan-Afrikanist and Afrikan persona, Comrade Bankie F.
Bankie, based in Juba, Sudan, threatened to resign from the PACON Board
Till now the Eminent Board members are disgruntled with PACON's handling
of its internal affairs. We are aware how dangerous elements have
derailed the pan-Afrikan dream in the past and shall not allow that to
Seibeb, Swartbooi and Ngurare, in the opinion piece entitled
"Pan-Afrikanism in Namibia: Is it Alive or Dying Out?" in the New Era of
May 30, 2008, asked the relevant question: "Did PACON kill
pan-Afrikanism in Namibia?"
Without doubt this question seems to be real, since there has been no
meaningful contribution as far as pan-Afrikan research, history,
culture, heritage and documentation of pan-Afrikanism philosophy is
concerned. We have witnessed the gradual degeneration of pan-Afrikanism,
which was so vibrant during the formative years of PACON.
We have seen how the students and youth intelligentsia have been
sidelined and denied access to PACON House by its kleptocratic leaders.
PACON was set up as a result of a Cabinet resolution, and the mandate
was offered to the Ministry of Youth, National Service, Sport and
Culture to give yearly stipendium for its operations. On the contrary,
the government is only having a mandate through the Ministry of Youth to
give monetary assistance but not to call on them to submit financial and
organizational reports. Basically, the ministry is toothless.
SPYL took a decision at the Economic Transformation Convention and at
its second Central Committee meeting this year, that PACON be revived,
with new board members, to carry forward the generational mandate of
pan-Afrikanism. Its unprofessional attitude and their continued refusal
to meet SPYL Leadership to discuss the status quo does not augur well
for the good governance and strengthening and democratization of our
SPYL is best placed since SWAPO Party is the product of pan-Afrikan
Other parastatals are allowed to choose new leaders, but this seems not
to be the case with PACON. Ten years of complete idleness and
unproductivity by PACON Board members has rendered the pan-Afrikan
Andrew Strauss, the deputy director of heritage and culture, who also
doubles as PACON Board member promised in 2006, that there shall be a
bi-monthly magazine called the "Afro-Voice" but up to date nothing has
Numerous vision-setting strategic workshops were held, of which
resolutions are busy collecting dust in the cabinets, for they have been
discarded as useless documents. So far this year, there has been no
activities taking place but the board members continue to call meetings
and claim board sitting allowances.
Perhaps it is time for the Anti-Corruption Commission to step in, for
there is no way that one can claim board sitting allowances, whereas one
is doing nothing. We need a new breed of visionary and transformational
leadership, which shall take the institution forward. We demand from
PACON Board and wish to know as to who imposed the unilateral
cancellation of the Annual Sam Nujoma Public Lectures, which was
launched in 2006.
These lectures were supposed to take place annually in May to highlight
I am strongly convinced by my conscience and the demands of
pan-Afrikanism, which hold dear that its ideals are greater than an
individual's selfish interests, that this is the right time for the
Minister of Youth, Hon.
Willem Konjore to intervene and organize an emergency meeting between
the current five-member PACON Board consisting of Maureen Hinda, Eveline
Shilamba, Victor Tonchi, Andre Strauss and Tjeripo Musutua, SPYL leading
Pan-Afrikanists and seasoned Pan-Afrikanists in general and the Eminent
Board members as represented by Prof. KK Prah, Hon. John Mutorwa, PM
Angula and its Patron.
I also appeal to Minister Konjore to call in PACON leaders and mandate
them to organize an urgent elective Annual General Meeting, which is
PACON never had an AGM in the last five years. Certainly, things cannot
be allowed to continue in anarchy, as is the case now.
On whose mandate are the five self-appointed board members leading?
Which class interests do they represent? What is their ideological
leaning in the context of the current political set-up in Namibia and in
What is their stance in the current genocide debates in Darfur and
southern Sudan? Does PACON have international links with other similar
centers around the globe and its Diaspora? What is their informed
proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Afro-Arab relations,
which threatens the very co-existence of the two nations – Black and
Arab – on this continent?
To this end, I register that PACON is facing a myriad of challenges,
amongst others, visionless leadership, characterized by lack of
understanding of pan-Afrikanism, lack of creativity and innovation, lack
of strategy and tactics to market pan-Afrikanism in Namibia, and above
all the penetration of its ranks by counter-revolutionaries, acting as
proxies to the infamous "Nyamu Notes", hell-bent on implementing those
notes by using supposed to be people-centered platforms like PACON.
In the same breath, I wish to inform the Ministry of Youth, more
especially its top management and simultaneously propose to the
remaining PACON Board members that the only honourable deed they can do
now is to relinquish their long grip on power.
I once again further urge the Ministry of Youth's top management to
intervene and give a strong directive to PACON to hold an urgent
elective AGM, cancellation of yearly grant to PACON, until they organize
an elective AGM, review of the Constitution and Election of new Board
Members, and finally the resurrection of the once glorious Pan Afrikan
Students Society of Unam and active mobilization and recruitment of
• Herold Stanley Binda, is a former Executive Member of Pan-Afrikan
Students Society (PASS) and the Chairperson of the Caucus Political
Science Club, University of Namibia, 2001/2002.
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