He picked an anti-corruption agenda that endeared him to civil society groupings and the majority of Namibians but to date action to match the words has been lacking.
President Pohamba’s legacy will be that of the “reluctant warrior” who did not wish to rock the boat using the adage of “collective leadership” as an excuse. For instance, on his watch, questions of impropriety were levelled against his ministers with regard to the GIPF (Government Institutions Pension Fund) saga, grabbing and fencing off of communal land, including his own, in the Kavango Region as well as his daughter’s Chinese scholarship at the expense of needy and poverty-stricken Namibians. The reports of the presidential commissions of enquiry held during the years of his predecessor have never been released despite his promise to do that when he took office way back in 2005.
His lame duck status is likely to become more obvious following the nomination of Hage Gottfried Geingob, the Minister of Trade and Industry and Swapo’s Vice President, Pendukeni-Iivula Ithana, the Minister of Justice and Swapo Secretary General by the Political Bureau as well as Jerry Ekandjo, Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development and Swapo Secretary for Information and Mobilisation to compete for the vice presidency of Swapo at the party’s Congress in November.
Geingob is automatically in the race as the incumbent vice president. It is therefore a moot point to advance the notion that President Pohamba nominated him. Naturally as the type of leader who does not wish to rock the boat, he does create an impression that Geingob needs to succeed him for reasons of continuity and political expediency.
Prime Minister Nahas Angula’s decision to decline the nomination during the Political Bureau meeting is a tactical move to toe the line and it is bordering on blind loyalty towards the President. He might still change his mind once he is nominated at the Central Committee’s meeting.
Geingob and Ithana can be likened to a “bridesmaid” and the “ambitious Biblical virgin”. Geingob is an astute politician and an administrator. He seems to draw his support from a core of intellectuals made up of wannabe and Johnny-come-lately comrades, businessmen, technocrats, etc who may ostensibly run a formidable campaign machinery although his detractors say that he does not have a “strong constituency”.
Iivula-Ithana is a shrewd politician who speaks her mind but has been labelled as divisive and an “unguided missile” by her detractors. She is also supported by some Wannabes and Johnny-come-latelies whose political credentials are questionable but she has not been tested as a Presidential material despite that she has been associated with the loosely defined ‘Omusati Clique” for all the wrong reasons.
Ekandjo is the “Prodigal Son” and is likely to spoil it for both of them. He is known to be close to the grassroots membership and even the leadership has helped him to cultivate a loyal following as one of the most popular leaders at party meetings. This notwithstanding, some political pundits within the Swapo say he does not have the stature of a President.
Don’t write Angula off just yet. Angula is a symbiosis of a reluctant warrior, a true blood and a dark horse all rolled into one and is profoundly loyal to his superiors (he did not wish to be seen as not supporting the President’s so called “nomination” of Geingob and hence declined nomination at the Political Bureau meeting). If his supporters strongly push and he is nominated at the forthcoming Central Committee meeting, he is very likely to be supported by President Pohamba whom he catapulted to higher office after he backed him during the 2004 election with a wholesale wave of his supporters; so it is pay-back time! The Founding President is also likely to support him.
Nahas in this race is likely to run for only one term and would therefore be the compromise candidate as he is perceived not to carry any political baggage and appears to be corruption-free and is a man of all seasons and that of the common man as far as social justice is concerned.
The race has only just begun!
* Citizen Josephat Sinvula is an outspoken political activist residing in Oshakati, Oshana Region. He is a holder of a BSc in Urban Studies & Planning and MPA from Atlanta University (USA) and is currently a PhD candidate in Political Science.
*Gwen Lister will be back next week.