Ekandjo definitely in the raceBy: JAN POOLMAN
JERRY Ekandjo, Swapo secretary for information, has confirmed that he will definitely be nominated for the party’s vice presidency at next month’s central committee meeting, despite rumours that he has been asked to step aside for a two-horse race between Hage Geingob and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana. “I am sure there are people who will nominate me at the Central Committee and this time I will stand,” Ekandjo told The Namibian yesterday.
During the 2007 Swapo congress, Ekandjo also vied for that position but was requested by the party leadership to withdraw to pave the way for Geingob to stand unopposed for that post. This would have created the impression that the party is standing as an united force behind Geingob.
Ekandjo said this time around, things will work differently and it was a done deal that he would be nominated for the position of vice president at the Central Committee and would accept the nomination.
Ekandjo’s confirmation came after reports emerged over the weekend that he had been asked by President Hifikepunye Pohamba not to stand for the vice presidency because it would split votes.
It is believed that Pohamba has thrown his weight behind Geingob for the position of Swapo vice president.
With Ekandjo in the mix, it will be three-horse race between Geingob, Ithana and him when the Central Committee meets from October 19 to 21.
When Itana was nominated by Utoni Nujoma, son of former President Sam Nujoma, there was speculation that Geingob does not have the full support of the founding President as claimed by his supporters, but now rumours to the contrary are flying around.
Ekandjo said there won’t be a repeat of the 2007 congress when he had to withdraw at the eleventh hour.
“It is not true that the President approached me this time to ask me not to stand for the position. It is also not true that the President has nominated any of the two other candidates. This should be clear to the people,” Ekandjo said.
However, The Namibian has been informed that although Pohamba did not nominate Geingob, he had approached different people to ask their support for the Trade and Industry Minister.
Apparently the two met at the Head of State’s farm recently where Pohamba reportedly confirmed that he would endorse him as candidate. Some sources said Pohamba was supposed to endorse Geingob at the Politburo meeting and since it did not happen the latter opted to approach influential Swapo cadres to convince them to throw their weight behind him.
Iivula-Ithana informed to the media last week that the Central Committee can add some candidates for the top four positions, but pointed out that only three candidates may contest each of these positions.
With Prime Minister Nahas Angula having serious doubts whether he is interested to continue his political career, the fight is on between Geingob, Ithana and Ekandjo.
Ithana also pointed out that although the process of nominations will only end after the Central Committee meeting, it would be very difficult to stop people from campaigning for their candidates now that the names of contenders are known.
However, Ekandjo said he does not believe in campaigning, saying since his first election as chairman of the Walvis Bay branch in 1969 he never campaigned for any position in Swapo.
With Ekandjo having led the Swapo Party Youth League during the early 1970s, it is expected that his nomination for vice president would come from the youth at the Central Committee.