By: Hertha Ekandjo
Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) boss, Graham Hopwood says it came as no surprise that National Assembly (NA) speaker Peter Katjavivi alongside three other members of the NA declined to hold positions after 2025. Hopwood said that they have been in the positions for a long time and that retirement was an option for them.
On Monday Swapo politburo got informed that Katjavivi, agriculture minister, Calle Schlettwein, gender minister Doreen Sioka, and home affairs minister, Albert Kawana will retire and declined to hold further positions beyond 2025.
“It was kind of expected. I think because they have been in position for a long time, some of them since 1990 and early 2000. So, retirement is the only option for them. I think the last six or seven years have been tough on ministers, like Calle Schlettwein who was a finance minister during a difficult recession and feels that he needed to take a break,” said Hopwood.
Hopwood said that it is a great thing that Namibia is getting politicians who want to hang onto their 80s, stating that it is also becoming an image problem for Swapo to have older members of the cabinet who don’t seem to be understanding or sympathetic to the situation of the young people in the country who make up the biggest portion of the Namibian population.
“The problem I think will be finding a replacement for these people, because a lot have been becoming junior ministers, emerging politicians who would say immediately okay, we are the sort of the immediate cabinet, so much younger and dynamic figures were waiting in the wings to come in and take over,” he explained.
According to him, the Swapo liberation struggle generation is coming to an end. “They are coming to the end of the ‘liberation struggle’ generation, people who were around before 1990, but they haven’t got the obvious quality and ability within their ranks unless we are going to be surprised by people to fill those boots of people who are retiring.”
Moreover, Hopwood told The Villager that works and transport minister, John Mutorwa would fit the position as the NA speaker.
“I think if he is well enough, he would probably be an obvious candidate. I think within Swapo, some sense that people from Kavango region should be recognised more because that is the area where Swapo has not been shown a decline in terms of support than any other part of the country has done,” Hopwood emphasised.
Meanwhile, political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah says it is difficult to tell right who the next NA speaker would be, as no one yet knows how the composition of the national assembly is going to turn out after the elections.
In 2024, Namibians will head to the polling stations to vote for the presidential and national assembly elections.
OPPOSITION FINDS SPEAKER RETIREMENT RARE
“More importantly we don’t know, which candidates are going to make it on the Swapo port list, but also the other political parties. We also don’t know who is going to have the majority in terms of the representation in the national assembly, which will determine who the next speaker will be,” said Kamwanyah. He stated that the retirement would leave a huge gap in parliament, but there are still young and vibrant people who would be able to fill the gap.
He also said this retirement would be good for the country’s democracy.
“It is good that we have the mentality of making sure that we do as much and don’t think that we are irreplaceable and that you have to stay in politics forever. There comes a time that you would want to do something else,” he noted.
Kamwanyah said that these politicians have been in position for years and it was time for them to give chance to the youngsters.
At the back of it, Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) deputy leader and MP Kalimbo Iipumbu said that the country needed young and innovative leaders, thus this retirement was needed.
“The country’s economy is actually at its knees now, it`s not only them who want to retire, but I think we still have more. The likes of Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Jerry Ekandjo, Loide Kasingo, these people must give a way and opportunities with innovative ideas,” he said.
Kalimbo reiterate that it was time that the MPs retired so that the young people get the chance to rescue the country`s economy.
Popular Democratic Movement leader, McHenry Venaani describes it as ‘a great decision that the four members made’.
“I think it is a good thing to give space to other people, so it is not a bad thing for politics. It is good to allow other people to come in,” said Venaani. He added that retirement was about age and that one needs to retire at the right age.
According to the PDM leader, it was very rare to see a member of the jury to retire. “The next speaker depends on who gets the majority of the votes, it’s difficult to determine who will win the position.”