Nahas Angula, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Jerry Ekandjo were yesterday silenced when the politburo endorsed President Hage Geingob's top three choices.
Geingob last week picked international relations minister Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah as his vice president; urban development minister Sophia Shaningwa as the secretary general and former Prime Minister Marco Hausiku as the deputy secretary general.
Iivula-Ithana, Nahas Angula and Ekandjo opted out, saying that they would rather wait for Sunday when the central committee sits.
Nangolo Mbumba nominated Geingob for the party presidency, while Khomas governor Laura McLeod-Katjirua endorsed Nandi-Ndaitwah.
Justice minister Albert Kawana nominated Shaningwa for secretary-general, and Vice President Nickey Iyambo picked up Hausiku.
Mbumba confirmed to The Villager yesterday that he had nominated Geingob.
"Very much right and entirely in order. What I can add is that the other members of the politburo who aspire for those positions indicated that we wait until Sunday for their nomination in the Central Committee which is also in line with our rules," Mbumba said.
Mbumba could not say whether the other hopefuls stand any chance.
"I am just talking the facts; I am not allowed to make speculations. They know what they are doing, they know their chances," he said.
Soon after Geingob announced his preferred three last week, Nahas Angula and Iivula-Ithana announced that they would also run for the vice president position of the party.
Nahas Angula said he decided to run because Geingob had not followed the tradition of nominating the current secretary general Nangolo Mbumba for the vice presidency.
Iivula-Ithana said that Geingob was trampling on the party constitution by choosing people even when he is just the acting party president.
Another Angula, Helmut, said that he would run for a top post because Geingob's team was inexperienced.
Ekandjo, who was beaten hands down in 2012 by Geingob, has not been saying anything - at least in public.
He, however, according to sources, told the politburo that he would wait to be nominated during the central committee meeting rather than by the politburo.
Iivula-Ithana too, sources said, opted to be nominated by the central committee.
Nahas Angula said Ekandjo and Iivula-Ithana and himself opted to take their nomination case to the central committee because they were afraid of Geingob's people.
Political commentator Graham Hopwood said all the nominations have to be confirmed by and at the central committee.
"The politburo is only the first stage. So I don’t think it is very significant. The critical meeting now will be with the Central Committee, but it looks to me like we will have three candidates for each post," Hopwood said.
He added that apart from the deputy secretary general's position, all the other posts are likely to be heavily contested.
"I guess they would think that if they are voted from the Central Committee, it will give them possibly an extra boost, but I don’t believe that it's too significant.
"What’s more interesting to me is exactly who will be standing in the end. But we can analyse once the Central Committee has announced the nominations," Hopwood said.
Another analyst, Ndumba Kamwanyah, said it is clear that those who declined to be nominated by the politburo have confidence in the body.
Kamwanyah said they hope that they will have support in the Central Committee and have confidence in the central committee.
"They do not want to be humiliated by the politburo, and they are very much confident that they will have numbers to support them at the central committee in term of who is on the central committee that will support them. It is all about the numbers," he said.
He added that they knew that the politburo was not in their favour and that they read the situation.
"They have assessed where their strength is. They will go where their power is. It is in the central committee for them in this case. If one allows being humiliated in the politburo it sends a message to the central committee that is one of the reasons," he said.
Efforts to talk to Nahas Angula, Iivula-Ithana and Ekandjo, were unsuccessful yesterday.