By: Hertha Ekandjo
Swapo vice president, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, says that the ruling party needs the coastal towns back under its wings as there are harbour ports where the country’s imports happen and are not in good hands under opposition leadership.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said this during the Swapo party star rally in Swakopmund on Saturday in preparation for the by-elections this week.
“Our trade cooperation cannot be controlled by those who don’t know where we have started, and that is why we must make sure that Erongo is under Swapo,” she noted.
Nandi-Ndaitwah highlighted that they didn’t want their international trade to be tampered with, as 90 per cent of Namibia’s trade was by sea.
“Therefore, we need this constituency back,” she expressed.
Swapo lost the majority control of both Swakopmund and Walvis Bay councils in the 2020 local and regional authority elections.
The international relations minister argued that the coastal towns have stagnated in development since the ruling party lost the leadership seat in the Erongo region.
“We have seen results of stagnation in the development of the town, but it is not too late. I, for one, don’t believe in mistakes. It can only be a mistake if you don’t want to correct it,” she said.
She urged coastal residents to make sure that they vote for a Swapo candidate when casting their votes on 12 August.
“Besides that, we have not been in charge of Erongo, but we have been taking care of people from Erongo,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
According to the international relations minister, Erongo regional council has not been functioning since the region’s residents decided to “rob Swapo of its rightful position.”
“You allow yourselves to be in the hands of those who have no base when you are leaving a strong foundation that has been growing over the years. Now we are seeing the results, but the opportunity has brought itself, now Swakopmund must come back to the rightful owners,” she emphasised.
Moreover, she added that it has been difficult for the Swapo party to catch up after what she claims has been a waste of two years since the region has been under a “non-order” leadership from the opposition party.
“Every week, we have meetings after meeting with the regional council because we need to catch up with the two years that we have lost, so we should not make that mistake anymore. We must invest our votes, trust and hopes in a party with a foundation, and this is the Swapo party!” she exclaimed.
When approached for comment, Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) spokesperson Immanuel Nashinge told The Villager that he could not comment on Nandi-Ndaitwah’s statement about port towns not being in good hands under opposition lead town.
“There’s no common sense in that statement,” he said.
According to him, the public is the one to judge and give their views on the minister’s statement the way they voted IPC into power.
“We were not given the position of leadership at gunpoint, but we were elected by the people,” expressed the spokesperson.
He further said that their focus as a political party was to get people out of the 32 years of “poverty brought to them by Swapo.”
On the deputy prime minister’s comments about a lack of progress in the region, Nashinge said, “Local authorities and regional councils are all under the same government, they don’t have budgets of their own which comes from the central government, and everything else that they have to implement has to come from the urban and rural development ministry, Erastus Uutoni,” he said.
He questioned that if Swakopmund was underdeveloped, “what about other towns which were not under the leadership of IPC?”
Nashinge added that the informal settlement in the town, DRC, has been underdeveloped, which was not IPC’s fault.
“Are we saying that in Walvis Bay, ghettos burning year in and year out, no proper housing, and the mass houses that are unoccupied, which we are pushing, so our people have a proper accommodation’, are a result of IPC?” he questioned.
Furthermore, he said that they wanted to be given the status quo of the country so that they could bring about changes needed by the people.
Bank of Namibia economist, Mally Likukela said that Nandi-Ndaitwah’s statement on the effect of opposition leaders on the country’s international trade was insufficient.
Likukela said there was no linkage between political party issues and the country’s importation.
“There’s no linkage between the two that she is talking about. That is pure politics. It does not make sense. What does the opposition party have to do with trade?” he said.
According to the economist, the leadership of an opposition party does not affect the country’s business regarding trading between countries.
Swapo’s loss of Walvis Bay and Erongo in 2020 represented a historical shift in the Erongo region’s political landscape.
In November 2020, IPC claimed victory in three out of seven constituencies in the Erongo Region in the regional council and local Authority elections.
At that time, IPC candidate Ciske Howard Smith won the race with over 5 500 votes in the Swakopmund Constituency, Walvis Bay Urban’s Deriou Benson won with 4 531, while Walvis Bay Rural candidate Florian Donatus won with 3 433 votes.