Swapo at crossroadsBy: JAN POOLMAN
Generals withdraw under pressure
THREE retired army generals, who were nominated just a week ago by the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) as delegates to the Swapo congress, have made a U-turn, allegedly at the request of President Hifikepunye Pohamba.
The President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Namibia Defence Force (NDF), is said to have made the request to save him “embarrassment” since the retired generals are still perceived to be under his command.
“Considering the texture and disposition of what went on behind the scenes, which we cannot share with the media and outsiders alike, SPYL understands, respects and accepts the decision of three generals,” said Job Amupanda, SPYL’s secretary for information, publicity and mobilisation, in a press release.
The three retired generals, Martin Shalli, Peter Nambundunga and Salomon Hawala, were nominated by the leadership of the SPYL to participate, as delegates, in the upcoming Swapo congress and to contest for leadership positions on the youth league’s ticket.
Apparently the three were summoned to State House on Monday and Pohamba requested them to withdraw as delegates of the SPYL, promising that he would make sure that they would be part of the ten Central Committee members he can nominate at the congress.
Pohamba is backing Swapo vice president Hage Geingob, who is the incumbent party vice president and an aspirant to succeed Pohamba as the country’s President.
The SPYL has decided to throw Jerry Ekandjo into the mix to challenge Geingob and the Swapo Party secretary general, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana.
The nomination of Hawala, also known as ‘The Butcher of Lubango’ would not have augured well for a Geingob presidency, since Geingob recently expressed misgivings about the Swapo dungeons at Lubango in Angola, in which thousands of Swapo members were detained as South African agents.
Amupanda, although sounding disappointed about the sudden withdrawal of the generals, said: “We anticipate them serving the party in no distant future. We find solace in the fact that the establishment now took notice of them the way it did on our making [sic].”
SPYL leaders Charles Siyauya and Veikku Nekundi will now replace two of the generals as SPYL’s candidates for Swapo’s Central Committee, while Alec Boois and Martha Hailwa will attend the congress on the youth’s ticket as delegates.
The SPYL was served another blow this week when Karas governor Clinton Swartbooi withdrew from the technical committee appointed to investigate the National Youth Council (NYC),
Swartbooi, who was the initiator of the committee and volunteered to serve on it as chairman, yesterday told The Namibian that he couldn’t continue as a member.
“I don’t want to be part of a committee that is used to recall people from the NYC. It seems that the terms of reference of the committee have changed in the meantime. I propose that an investigation should be done on the mandate, performance and structure of the NYC, taking into consideration the funding that the council received, and not to recall people,” said Swartbooi.