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I'm ready to relinquish ministerial posts - Nandi-Ndaitwah

by Rodney Pienaar

Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has said that if need be, she will give up the international relations ministry to take up the Swapo vice presidency on a full-time basis.

President Hage Geingob listed Nandi-Ndaitwah, who is also the deputy Prime Minister, as his running mate during the Swapo elective congress next month.

If elected at the elective congress, Nandi-Ndaitwah will work with urban development minister Sophia Shaningwa whom Geingob chose for the Swapo secretary- general.

Former deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku is also on Geingob's list as the vice secretary-general.

In an interview with The Villager yesterday, Nandi-Ndaitwah said she was honoured to be chosen by Geingob.

Although no law says that those who hold ministerial posts cannot be elected in the top four, Nandi-Ndaitwah noted it would her wish to let go of her ministry.

“I am always on assignments. Government assignments are Swapo assignments. What I also know is that the party has full-time jobs and part-time jobs. If I am asked to vacate the current position for the position of the vice president of the party, I will do so,” she said.

Her decision, she said, is because Geingob assigned her to the current ministerial positions.

“I did not choose to be in the current position I am to be there I was assigned it is the same thing.  I will take this assignment too like I have taken the assignment of my current position,” she explained.

Nandi-Ndaitwah also said that she does not know why Geingob chose her as a nominee for the position of the party vice presidency.

“The process has to be finalised at the party structure. There will be a politburo on Thursday (today) where the other nomination could be made and according to our rules and procedures, what comes out of the politburo will go to the central committee and from there that is where we will have the final nominations,” she said. 

Nandi-Ndaitwah is likely to have it tough if the other party stalwarts like the current Swapo information secretary Helmuth Angula and home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana press ahead with their bids for the same position.

Iivula-Ithana has already indicated that she would contest against Nandi-Ndaitwah because Geingob acted outside the party constitution by nominating her.

In a no holds barred interviewed with The Namibian on Tuesday, Iivula-Ithana accused Geingob of being selective when he said he would work with the three.

Iivula-Ithana also said she would seek nomination under youth minister Jerry Ekandjo's faction where Oshikoto regional coordinator Armas Amukwiyu has also indicated willingness to run for the secretary-general's position.

So far, Geingob and former Prime Minister Nahas Angula have openly declared an interest to run for the Swapo Party presidency.

Nahas Angula said he declared his interest because Geingob did not follow the Swapo tradition where the secretary-general progresses to be the vice president.

In which case, the current secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba should have been considered for the vice presidency.

Mbumba himself told The Villager though that he had no problem with Geingob's list

"I think the president has come up with an excellent team which he wants to work with," Mbumba said, adding that Geingob belongs to the Tanganyika group, the earliest people who left the country in the 60s.

"Comrade Nandi-Ndaitwah belongs to the group from the 70s; Comrade Sophia Shaningwa is also in that group but not as early as Comrade Netumbo," he said. 

Nahas Angula confirmed that he approached former president Sam Nujoma when he made up his mind to run.

He, however, did not confirm what Swapo sources said that he went to complain that a Ndonga, Mbumba, had been sidelined.

“When did I become a spokesperson for the Oshindonga speaking person? Am I the Ondonga king? 

"I went to the founding father to inform him that I am going to stand,” Nahas Angula said.

The Villager, however, understands that Geingob asked Mbumba to pave the way for Nandi-Ndaitwah in exchange for the state vice presidency when Nicky Iyambo retires.

Mbumba did not confirm whether this was true.

If Nandi-Ndaitwah wins she stands a chance of becoming Namibia’s first female president.