Nothing to stop Swapo congress

Staff WriterThe Swapo nominations for its top four positions is done and dusted. There are some who are pronouncing victory over the limiting Helmut Amendments, while others cry foul over how the party constitution was raped to get some candidates on the list of competitors for the position of Vice President in particular.

From media reports this morning there are suggestions that President Hage Geingob pushed through the nomination of people who did not meet the qualifying criteria. The specific nominees singled out were the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs and the Minister of Mines and Energy, as they were not members of the Central Committee ‘’persistently and consistently’’.

However, those who wanted them in on the contest won the day and Frans Kapofi and Tom Alweendo joined the nomination race together with Jerry Ekandjo and Pohamba Shifeta. The four were added to the names of the incumbent, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and Saara Kuugongelwa-Amdhila.

Netumbo and Saara had been proponents of the Helmut Amendments which they believed blocked the likes of Kapofi and Alweendo, because they did not meet the requirement of 10 years of central committee minimum membership.

In the central committee meeting at the weekend there were threats of legal challenges if those not meeting the strict requirement are allowed to be nominated. IN the end the central committee allowed their nomination and there was no talk of not honouring Helmut Amendments. According to the Swapo constitution and the Helmut Amendments a candidate for the Swapo Vice President position is required to ‘’persistently and consistently been a member of the Party for a continuous minimum period of fifteen years’’.

It further goes on to stipulate ‘’has been a member of the central committee for a minimum of ten years; is nominated by the Political Bureau or the Central Committee; and has not been a member of any other political party after the formation of Swapo’’.

As political analyst Ndumba Kamanya told the Windhoek Observer, the clauses can be interpreted in many ways. A careful reading of the above qualification requirements particularly when one reads ‘’is nominated by the Political Bureau or the Central Committee’’ independently from the preceding clause of ‘’has been a member of the central committee for a minimum of ten years’’. The question is whether these clauses are mutually exclusive or are complementary? Political analyst Rui Tyitende said ‘’despite the hullabaloo created around the so-called ‘Helmuth Amendments’, there is a transitional provision that clearly states ‘Any right or privilege enjoyed by any member in terms of the previous provisions prior to the amendment must be considered to be a right or privilege enjoyed in terms of any comparable provisions of this Constitution.’ Put differently, the amendments only apply to those who joined SWAPO after 2018. With my rudimentary understanding of legal language, the above provision makes it possible for
the likes of Frans Kapofi to be nominated and eventually contest for the position of VP. Dr Marius Kudumo, public policy analyst, has taken issue with what he termed a ‘’over crowded field’’ of candidates, which he warned may result in slate politics if the ‘’process is not managed properly’’. He said this in an interview Sunday night on NBC TV. The party, he said, ‘’cannot afford tendency of factionalism’’ the possibility of slate politics and who nominates a candidate and what interest such a person represents are all issues that must be looked at carefully.

President Hage Geingob at the opening of the Central Committee on Saturday said it is those who lose the contest, who use slate politics as an excuse and he called on party members to lose gracefully and unite behind the winner. ‘’The problem is when those defeated don’t accept. Those who cannot make it, tomorrow is still there,’’ he consoled.

By Observer