Andrew Kathindi and Tujoromajo Kasuto
President Hage Geingob’s surprise decision to pick a young Member of Parliament (MP) outside of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) structures, has given indication that he lacks confidence in the ruling party’s youth wing.
This was the sentiment of political analysts speaking to the Windhoek Observer. Former Namibia National Students Organisation (Nanso) Secretary General, Patience Masau, was sworn in as a Member of Parliament, replacing former Defence minister, Peter Vilho.
Political Analyst, Ndumba Kamwayah, stated that the President’s decision to appoint youth outside the SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) structures to some extent shows his lack of confidence in the SPYL.
“In itself it is an indictment to the SPYL, in the sense that they probably do not have the right people that can take up certain leadership positions in Parliament or Government, it is for them (SPYL) to reflect why the President is not getting people from their structure,” said Ndumba.
The Unam lecturer further observed that loyalty from the SPYL cadres matters in the President’s decisions, further suggesting a disconnect between the SPYL and the President. Last year Emma Theofelus was appointed to Parliament ahead of senior SPYL members, before the President appointed her as Deputy Minister of ICT. She previously served as the Deputy Chairperson of the Children’s Parliament.
According to Ndumba claims by disgruntled SPYL members on being overlooked are valid as the Head of State has once again chosen to go outside the party list for a candidate.
This comes as SPYL’s Deputy Secretary, Christine Haindaka, according to media reports stated that those within the ranks of the SPYL were disappointed by Geingob’s move.
“They do have claims by saying if the structure of the SPYL is being overlooked. So, if you are getting other people outside the structure, why are those structures there?”
“The problem with the Swapo Party Youth League is that they are not demonstrating their capabilities and their talent that’s why probably they are being left behind, but also I think it is the mother body which is the president, the responsibility also to groom this young people in the structure, that’s why you are putting them in the structure, if they are not showing their talent, help them and guide them, don’t just use them for campaigns.”
Political commentator, Dr Hoze Riruako, agreed with these sentiments, stating that members of SPYL have not done anything to distinguish themselves.“They should improve themselves in terms of their qualifications and experience. Once they do that, they will be discovered just like anybody else. The fact that they are serving in the SPYL does not make them special. They need to improve the quality that people are looking for.”
Riruako agreed that it was right for Geingob to look for an MP outside of Swapo’s party list. “We have been urging the President to look for talent and not necessarily look for people on the party list. The President has been coming on strong, saying my hands are tied because of the party list.”
“We need to do away with the party list system because it’s messing up the country, because these people are elected not necessarily because they have anything to offer but because they have entrenched themselves in the political setup. People just waiting for their chance to go to parliament,” he told Windhoek Observer.
Riruako however questioned the merits of the appointments of Masua and Theofelus. “On the appoints of the young ladies, one wonders whether the President is looking for talent or he’s just appointing looking to fill areas such as gender, youth, or marginalised group, to fill a quota. People who are underrepresented. But in my opinion, that should not be the criteria. Looking at our economic situation, you do not want to appoint someone who will have to learn on the ground.”
Masua became the youngest MP when she was appointed by the President. She is 22 while Theofelus is 24.
Meanwhile Political Analyst, Henning Melber, stated that Geingob was within his right to make appointments outside of party branches.
“I would imagine that President Geingob has factored in several aspects, in the two cases age and gender, combined with what he considers also competence beyond those two criteria (such as education). The proof is in eating the pudding – meaning: if the appointed perform well, they have justified their choice based on merits. As the case of Vilho showed, this is not always guaranteed.”
SPYL National Spokesperson, Gerson Dumeni, stated, “SPYL has many young people with vast experience and education, including LLB; hence I must dispel the notion created by Individuals that SPYL members has no education.”
SPYL Secretary-General, Ephraim Nekongo, who had a three month stint in Parliament after being appointed by the President last year as a replacement for recalled Fishrot accused, former Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala, and former Fisheries Minister Bernhardt Esau, did not respond to questions sent.