More names added to vice presidentís raceBy: JAN POOLMAN
A DAY before the watershed Swapo Central Committee meeting, two names have emerged to battle it out with Jerry Ekandjo, the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) candidate, to become the third contender for the position of vice president of the party.
The incumbent vice president, Hage Geingob, and the partyís secretary general, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, are already in the race after Geingob automatically qualified to run for the position and Iivula-Ithana was nominated by Foreign Affairs Minister Uutoni Nujoma. Prime Minister Nahas Angula was nominated by Helmut Angula at the same Politburo meeting, but declined.
The Namibian has learned that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab, and Works and Transport Minister Erkki Nghimtina will also be nominated for the position of vice president to join the race with Ekandjo.
The race between the three senior leaders of Swapo is expected to go down to the wire, but early indications are the Ekandjo will be leading the pack.
The race is expected to go into a second round and whoever falls out between Gurirab and Nghimtina in the first round is expected to support the other one to run against Ekandjo.
Earlier Gurirab hinted that he would stand for the position if nominated and also said that the notion of a non-Oshiwambo-speaking president is a fair demand, provided that the prospective candidate has the necessary qualifications.
However, the name of Nghimtina as part of the mix came as a surprise.
The Works and Transport Minister has been in the news over the past year about problems experienced at parastatals under his watch, namely Air Namibia, TransNamib and the Namibia Airports Company.
In terms of the Swapo rules on the election of office bearers, only three candidates should be sent to the congress to vie for the vice president position.
The race for the third candidate is now between Ekandjo, Gurirab and Nghimtina to join Geingob and Iivula-Ithana as the third candidate for congress delegates to elect a successor for President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
Both Gurirab and Nghimtina were called several times to confirm if they are in the race, but left their cellphones unanswered.
It is expected that additional nominations for the position of secretary general and deputy secretary general will also be made at this weekendís meeting.
During the last Politburo meeting Geingob nominated the current deputy secretary general, Nangolo Mbumba, for the SG position and it was seconded by Gurirab.
With regard to the position of deputy secretary general, Gurirab nominated the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
In the meantime the SPYL has announced that it will nominate Nujoma for the SG position and Education Minister Abraham Iyambo for deputy SG at the central committee meeting.
The only two agenda points for the weekendís meeting are the preparations for the upcoming congress and the nomination of candidates.