Can legacy politics give Ekandjo Swapo's head?
Swapo 2017: What Have They Done
This is the second part in a series where The Villager will analyse what each of 11 Swapo Party top four candidates have achieved ever since they joined politics. The Villager is doing this because the outcome of the Swapo Party elective congress next month will have a bearing on the future of the country. We also welcome readers' views on the leaders. If you have any views, write to the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Civil activist Frederico Links yesterday said had it not been for President Hage Geingob, Jerry Ekandjo would not have been in Cabinet today.
Links said Ekandjo was lower down on the list after the 2012 elective congress.
"He could have been overlooked very easily. And he wouldn’t have been in Cabinet today.
"It was only through Geingob’s mercy that he made it back into the cabinet. He is not out there making a case for himself.
"This is legacy politics, and it does not matter what the electorate think. This is Swapo. This is the 600+ delegates’ congress," Links said.
According to Links, Ekandjo's supporters think he can deliver although as observers looking on, there isn’t much to go on regarding performance.
"Even if his performance is underwhelming. I can’t say he has the charisma and the other sort of component characteristic that would make for a compelling president. Looking at the available evidence, it has to say no.
"The man has not performed in any spectacular way as a cabinet minister over the years. He seems to be a hanger-on for some more powerful people, more charismatic people," Links said.
He also wondered what Ekandjo's supporters were basing their support of him on.
"We are not hearing them selling him with regards to his leadership qualities and his achievements. What are they selling?
"They are not exactly making a case for him. I don’t know if you are hearing them shouting his abilities and intellect and all these other things. Is that (seniority) what the man’s calibre comes down to?" he asked.
Links further said Ekandjo's supporters would have to convince the 600 plus congress goers as what their candidate offers.
"They are probably reaching out to the people. It’s a little constituency. It makes so much more comfortable; you are not dealing with the whole country. If they were dealing with the entire nation, they would have a serious problem trying to sell Ekandjo," he said.
Ekandjo, Links said, might appeal to some fringe elements and that makes his supporters' job easier selling him.
Another analyst, Hoze Riruako, however, said it’s difficult to say (whether Ekandjo is capable or not).
Riruako said the thing is that as much as people are talking, it seems as if the ground is so much polarised to such an extent that it depends on the majority of the congress goers whether they see you as a person with potential.
"The people who are going to the congress are coming from their regions, and are influenced by the activities of some of these ministers.
"Deep down in people’s minds, they have made up their minds as to who in their opinion thinks, behaves and presents himself presidentially," he said.
Riruako also said people would support a person who walks his talk.
He said the key to the whole issue is that those who seem to be a man of their words; are resolute; have the interests of the Namibian people at heart, and commanding respect even from your peers can make it.
"People believe that if necessary you are the type of person who is ready to hold the bull by the horns, those are the characters," he said.
He added: "Namibia for too long has not necessarily elected their leaders on performance or on what have you. But what they have done (is) they used the party ideology to choose their leaders."
Riruako said he does not think it will be different this time around.
"The party will decide within their cadres. Surely the person where the majority have put their weight, usually that is the person that is elected," he said.
For that reason, he said, he does not think that Ekandjo has emerged as a shining star in the distance where everybody is glued or drawn to.
"There will be a lot of pushing and shoving here. There will be mud-slinging here and there. You saw what happened at the Central Committee?
"The reaction that I had from the people is that there are people who aired their opinion. You could see that this one was going to this one, but after the meeting in the foyer as the people were leaving it was complete camaraderie.
"There were no hostilities, and that’s political maturity that the Namibian people are looking for. That was displayed there," he said.
Brief Ekandjo biography
Ekandjo served as Chairman of the Swapo Windhoek Branch.
He was arrested in August 1973 and tried for incitement of violence in November 1973.
After conviction, he was slapped with eight years’ imprisonment. Ekandjo served the jail term at Robben Island.
Released in 1981, Ekandjo became a teacher from 1982 to 1987. In 1989, he became the deputy head of Swapo voter registration as well as a member of Constituent Assembly.
After independence, Ekandjo became deputy home affairs minister until 2005.
He became home affairs minister in 1995 until 2005 when he was moved to lands and resettlement.
Ekandjo has been trying to be the Swapo vice president since 2007 after he received the most votes as a member of the central committee.
In 2008, Ekandjo became the Swapo secretary for information and publicity.
By that time, Ekandjo was the regional and local government minister.
In 2012, Ekandjo took a shot at the Swapo vice presidency but was defeated by Hage Geingob.
He even was the 81st on the list, a position which could not land him in parliament.
Geingob then appointed him into parliament and government as one of eight people a president can pick. Ekandjo was also appointed youth minister.
In 2000 when he was the home affairs minister, Ekandjo told 700 newly graduated police officers to "eliminate" gays and lesbians "from the face of Namibia".
His comments resulted in the DTA moving a motion of no confidence in Ekandjo, but because of the Swapo majority, the motion failed.
In 2001, Ekandjo a court found Ekandjo guilty of contempt of court after he had released from jail, Jose Domingo Sikunda, a former Unita representative in Namibia.
Recently, Ekandjo shocked the nation when he suggested in parliament that girls who fall pregnant should be burnt alive.
He made this comment regardless of the fact that Namibian women are murdered almost every day.
Of course, Ekandjo later said it was a joke, but very few people believed him because of the previous comments.
The home affairs ministry has been one of the poorly managed where processing of documents was slow, and queues were the order of the day.
As the youth and sports minister, football has died under his watch. Ekandjo does not seem interested in promoting the game.
His comment that the police recruits should hunt down gays made international headlines.