A much anticipated Swapo politburo meeting has nominated Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and her deputy, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah to battle it out for the much-coveted Vice President (VP) position ahead of the congress.
The politburo also nominated Oshikoto regional coordinator, Armas Amukwiyu to face off with the incumbent, Sophia Shaningwa, for the Secretary-General (SG) position.
However, at a Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) meeting over the weekend, Shaningwa is on record stating that she is willing to leave her position saying it belongs to no single individual.
The following have been nominated for the position of Deputy Secretary General: Lucia Witbooi, David Hamutenya, and Evelyn Nawases-Tayele, leaving in the cold the likes of former education minister, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, for now.
The nominations have also skipped Swapo stalwarts who for the longest time have been speculated to be in the running and these are defence minister, Frans Kapofi, Central Committee member and former Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) boss, Tobie Aupindi, and party chairperson of the leaders assigned to Khomas region and tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta.
Political analyst, Rui Tyitende, has however cautioned that it is too early to come to any conclusion since there will be another round of nominations by the Central Committee (CC) at a meeting slated for this coming weekend.
“There is a possibility that these names might appear over the weekend. Politics is about ambition and so I expect these young people to put their names or for their names to be put forward because I think they have done some lobbying, the likes of Tobie Aupindi for example, and Pohamba Shifeta, if they are interested, which I think they are.”
“They are young. They still have time on their side. But the key question is this, how will the Namibian populace receive these people that will ascend to the top echelons of the party? It will be a liability for the party should any of the candidates tainted by the Fishrot saga emerge victorious,” said Tyitende.
A “not-so-surprising list”
Tyitende said the list as it stands so far does not surprise.
He submitted that if the list for the VP does not change at the Central Committee meeting, then chances are high that Namibia is poised for a woman president come 2024.
The subject of Namibia being ripe for a female president was first broached by the founding President, Sam Nujoma, and has been the subject of fierce debate with some calling it a “stupid idea”.
“I am not surprised by the two candidates vying for the position of VP, especially Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah; she has impeccable revolutionary struggle credentials and Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila as an administrator.”
“But we haven’t yet seen an aggressive campaign, even if it is underground by Saara. Maybe that is because of her personality. But we need to see how things will unfold by Saturday. It is still too premature to conclude on the number of candidates that will vie for the position of VP,” he said.
A party at the crossroads
In the meantime, Swapo stalwart, James Sankwasa, has expressed that expectations are that those being nominated and those nominating must first “accept that Swapo is at the crossroads”.
He said the previous electoral performance shows that the party is gradually losing its popularity and grip on power owing to corruption from within the leadership structure.
“Even the corruption being done by the followers which the leaders are failing to control, as well as extremely poor service delivery in localities. Now when this is the challenge, I expect, first of all, people to go for self-introspection. If you are nominated, ask yourself the question; “Can I address these things, or do I want this position for self-glory?”
“Those who nominate must not nominate because ‘I am nominating my friend, my comrade, my tribesman, my village-headman or my cousin or my uncle’. No! That is not the criteria that will lead this country. Those that are nominating must look at the candidate who is corrupt-free at the moment, that we can use as a marketing tool to turn the tables for Swapo,” he said.
In the meantime, Sankwasa said as things stand and as per the rules, the politburo or the Central Committee cannot remove or eliminate party president, Hage Geingob, VP Nandi-Ndaitwah, and SG, Sophia Shaningwa because they were put in place by congress.
He said the voting is done by secret ballot although the nomination is done publicly.
Candidates must accept a nomination and get a secondment without which the candidate will not be declared duly nominated.
“The politburo may nominate three candidates and eliminate some but what happens if the Central Committee is not convinced of the nomination? The CC may go and renominate or do away with the nominated candidates from the politburo because it is not binding that whatever the politburo has nominated must be endorsed by the CC.”
“The CC still has the final say. The politburo recommends to the CC and which finally makes the recommendations to the congress. This is the procedure. So, therefore, if the candidates presented by the politburo to the CC are not of the calibre that the CC is convinced of, the CC can reject those candidates and nominate others instead,” he said.