Saara Kuukongelwa-Amadhila and incumbent vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah came through as the only candidates at today’s Swapo Party Politburo meeting held in Windhoek to endorse nominations for the position of Vice President, secretary general and the deputy secretary general. Only the position of the president will not be contested and Hage Geingob will be going into the congress unchallenged.
Nandi-Ndaitwah did not need any nomination as the incumbent after she declared herself as contesting, while Kuukongelwa Amadhila was nominated by Tobie Aupindi and seconded by Calle Schlettwein.
The succession battles were always fought among the older generation or the Tanganyika group of politicians, with only two younger politicians featuring in the persons of Saara Kuukongelwa-Amadhila and the late Dr Abraham Iyambo. The time was not ripe for them then, but, this candidacy of the Prime Minister for the vice presidency will be her first taste of real contest for a position in Swapo. And she has been gaining momentum since she declared herself as a candidate. As the incumbent, Nandi-Ndaitwah has always shown and declared that she would stand for the party’s presidency, when her time comes, which would make her eligible to run for the country’s number one position, as the Swapo candidate.
The two namely the Prime Minister and her Deputy has lately taken the pole position to fight it out for the Swapo vice presidency. This time around President Geingob is not endorsing and according to a presidency statement at the weekend those entering the race at the congress should ‘’support inter-Party democracy’’ and should ‘’approach internal elections while holding hands in solidarity’’.
At the opening of the Politburo meeting Geingob emphasised that the party has ‘’grown into a serious democratic organization where contestation for positions is open and peaceful and is undertaken in accordance with established rules and procedures of the Party’’.
According to the presidency there has always been contestation for Swapo vice president position and Geingob competed for it against other candidates most recently against Jerry Ekandjo and Nahas Angula at the 2017 congress. ‘’Based on the established precedents over the years, there will always be democratic contestation for leadership positions in Swapo,’’ the presidency wrote.
Geingob, was however endorsed by his predecessor, Hifikepunye Pohamba, albeit silently when he asked if there is a problem with my deputy, when the issue of succession was raised.
Pohamba, also argued against two centres of power, strongly suggesting that the president of the party should also be the country’s president. If that was not endorsement, then what would be?
The presidency further says ‘’the important thing is that within the democratic process of contestation, we all should abide by the rules and accept defeat as part of the democratic process’’.
In the other powerful position of secretary general, Sophia Shaningwa will run against her rival at the last 2017 congress, and whom she beat last time with the Harambee Slate, Armas Amukwiyu. He is regarded as the strongman from the Oshikoto Region. Amukwiyu was nominated by Ambassador Magreth Mensah William and seconded by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta. Shaningwa, as the incumbent did not need nomination, as she declared herself available.
The position of secretary general puts the incumbent in a very powerful position, as the person is in charge of the administrative and political machinery of the party and works very closely withthe president, who in most instances is occupied with the running of the State.
In the deputy secretary general portfolio there are three candidates namely Lucia Witbooi, Dawid Hamutenya and Eveline Naweses-Tayele.
Witbooi was nominated by Laura McCleod, the governor of the Khomas Region and seconded by the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs and Swapo spokesperson, Hilma Nicanor.
The governor of the Kavango West Region, Sirrka Ausiku nominated Hamutenya, seconded by Aupindi.
Naweses-Tayele was nominated by Katrina Hanse-Himarwa and seconded by Saara Kuukongwelwa-Amadhila.
The president at the politburo meeting urged those aspiring for positions in the party to ‘’conduct themselves as leaders and to play the ball, not a man and to ensure unity, peace and cohesion within the party at all times’’.
The central committee of the party has meeting this weekend where another round of nominations will be done.
The Politburo also saw some veterans declaring their exit from the Politburo and the Central Committee at the November congress. They are Speaker of the National Assembly Peter Katjavivi, his deputy Loide Kasingo, the Minister of Home Affairs, Albert Kawana and Doreen Sioka, the Minister of Gender Equality. This may open Politburo and Central Committee positions for younger members, technocrats and activists of the party.