Geingob’s Swapo Party successor will be elected in 90 days

Kaipaherue Kandjii

The Swapo Party’s Central Committee (CC) is expected to set plans in motion to elect the late President Hage Geingob’s successor in 90 days as required by its rules and procedures.

The party’s highest decision-making organ is mandated by Article 15 (9) of its constitution to convene an Extraordinary Electoral Congress to elect a new president.

Newly sworn-in Vice-President Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is currently also vice-president of the Swapo Party and is very likely to succeed Geingob.

Geingob, Namibia’s third elected Head of State shockingly died in the wee hours of Sunday morning shortly after revealing a cancerous ailment, prompting treatment in both the United States of America and Namibia.

The decorated statesman and longest-serving prime minister died aged 82 at the Lady Pohamba Private Hospital flanked by his wife Monica Geingos and his children.

Legal analyst, Natjirikasora Tjirera, predicts a close-knit Extraordinary Congress and says Nandi-Ndaitwah is closing in on replacing Geingob at the party level.

“Article 15(9) of the SWAPO party constitution provides that in the event that the party President can no longer perform his duties, the Central Committee shall call an extraordinary congress to elect a President. The party constitution also provides that in the absence of the President the Vice President of the Party shall exercise the powers and fulfill the duties of the President.

When the two provisions are read together it means that the current Vice President of the Party will ascend to the presidency for a period of three months pending a congress which the Central Committee is enjoined to call,” said Tjirera.

The legal guru also warned the ruling Party against throwing caution to the wind, saying if the Congress is hijacked by political opportunists it may lead to a “catastrophe”

“The language of Article 15(9) is peremptory and doesn’t leave the party with a choice. ⁠I think the Swapo party will be alive to the reality that this is an election year and any wrong step might yield catastrophic consequences. I think the current Vice President will comfortably emerge victorious,” he predicted.

Meanwhile, former minister of youth and sports Jerry Ekandjo, a liberation struggle stalwart has written to the late Geingob urging him to convene an Elective Congress whilst Nandi-Ndaitwah has been endorsed as the presidential candidate.

The stance by Ekandjo which has been widely dismissed by politicians and analysts alike is being seen as a new ploy to wrestle political power in the race to State House – if he succeeds to win at party-level.

Meanwhile, the late Geingob refused to entertain his plea, and instead, reaffirmed Nandi-Ndaitwah as the candidate for this year’s much-anticipated presidential and national assembly elections.

Nandi-Ndaitwah’s new position as the country’s VP will also buttress her status and play a significant role in emerging as Geingob’s successor at the Party.

The former deputy prime minister becomes the first female politician to fill such a post – 33 years after independence.

Furthermore, political scientist Ndumba Kamwanyah also echoed Tjirera’s sentiments saying although a Congress will come into play, he doesn’t expect any chaos.

“The problem probably is at the party level. The party constitution talks about 90 days that there has to be an election. Although we know that Netumbo [Nandi-Ndaitwah] is the VP of the Swapo Party the constitution talks about 90 days if the president is not there. There has to be an election,” said Kamwanyah in an interview with this publication on Sunday on the void left by Geingob’s passing.

The political science lecturer at the University of Namibia has also characterized the issue of the succession race within the Swapo Party as a “contraction”

“So, they must deal with that contradiction [of] there you have [Nandi-]Ndaitwah at the VP for the Party and also the presidential candidate for the Party and then you have the constitution saying an election must be held in 90 days for an extra-ordinary Congress,” he opined.

Last year at a Swapo Party rally in Rehoboth, the incumbent secretary-general and seasoned politician Sophia Shaningwa dismissed Ekandjo’s ploy pledging allegiance to Nandi-Ndaitwah as the legitimate candidate ahead of the polls.

“I am talking about a person who never wavered and remained steadfast. A seasoned politician. She will never let you down.”

Shaningwa, a former councillor for Windhoek West constituency, also reminisced on the role Nandi-Ndaitwah played in her political journey.

“She made me a councillor and campaigned for me, and I think it’s high time that I do the same. I am done already; I am the secretary general,” she stressed.

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