VP Race: Ekandjo goes down fighting

Obrein Simasiku

The two-time presidential hopeful Jerry Ekandjo’s wishes were dashed this afternoon at the Swapo Party Special Central Committee meeting, called to entertain his request to be part of the Vice President race.

This was the final straw to his third attempt at the party’s vice presidency.

The special meeting had another twist when, Swapo SG Sophia Shaningwa allegedly stormed out of the CC meeting after she was questioned about why non-delegates are allowed in the internal meetings intended only for the candidates and delegates. “She refused to answer any of the questions raised, instead she stood up and left the venue without a word.”

The CC which is the highest decision-making body of the party between congresses, dismissed Ekandjo’s request, saying that the fact that he was eliminated during the preliminary nominations at the central committee, where Saara Kugongwelwa-Amadhila, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Pohamba Shifeta and Frans Kapofi, who later withdrew his candidature few days after, makes him not to stand a chance as the CC was the final nomination round, insiders told the Observer.

Confirming the outcome of the meeting, Swapo spokesperson Hilma Nicanor, said Ekandjo’s request could not be acceded to because he already exercised his democratic right when he lost out in internal elections. “As guided by the party principle documents such as the party constitution, elections rules and procedures, it was decided that his demand will not be honoured. It cannot be honoured because, as per the constitution and elections rules and procedures, Cde Jerry already participated in the race, he exercised his right. So there is no legal ground for him to be considered again as a candidate joining the race. So he’s not going to partake,” she said.

According to an insider, the meeting was straightforward, as Ekandjo was allegedly told plainly that he stands no chance. “The president opened the meeting and then gave the floor to Albert Kawana who read the legal opinion which formed the basis of the decision, then that was it for him,” added the source.

The meeting came about following President Hage Geingob’s intervention earlier this week and directed Swapo Secretary General Sophia Shaningwa to convene an urgent CC engagement to discuss Ekandjo’s continued contestation for inclusion in the race. The veteran politician and backbencher last month threatened to sue the party if he was not included. He argued that some of the candidates had never served in the CC for a minimum of 20 years consistently and persistently as per the Helmet Amendments, but were allowed as candidates.

“The persistence of Jerry was as a result of some supporters of Netumbo and the SG who wanted him to be included so that he can divide the votes and place her [Netumbo] to an advantage against Kugongelwa-Amadhila who is seen as a threat,” said one politician who declined to be named. Ekandjo did not answer phone calls nor did he respond to a text message by the time of going to print, while Shaningwa’s phone was unreachable.

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