Geingob left in the darkBy: JAN POOLMAN and SELMA SHIPANGA
SWAPO vice president, Hage Geingob’s aspirations to become Namibia’s next President were dealt a low blow at the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) congress, when his supporters failed to get the much-needed push from their peers.
Political analysts yesterday said the message the youth have sent out – that of not voting for people who support Geingob – will affect his chances at the Swapo congress later this year.
Apart from Geingob, Swapo’s secretary general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Prime Minister Nahas Angula and the ruling party’s information secretary, Jerry Ekandjo are regarded as leading candidates to lead the party from 2015.
The biggest challenges for the Geingob faction were to oust the incumbent secretary of SPYL, Elijah Ngurare, and to also ensure that their candidate contesting for the position of deputy secretary, Heather Sibungo, beats opponent Veikko Nekundi.
Geingob’s camp also wanted to have substantial support among the newly elected central committee members.
However, in all cases, they dismally failed as Ngurare was elected unopposed, Nekundi won his race comfortably and only three of the 30 central committee members are Geingob supporters.
The youth’s message was loud and clear on Friday already when Jerry Ekandjo, who doubles as Local Government Minister, entered the hall and received a standing ovation.
Ekandjo was also a former SPYL leader and is one of the Namibians who did not go into exile but had to face the music against the colonialists in the country. This also resulted in his jail term on Robben Island. However, he is also regarded as one of the closest people to former President Sam Nujoma.
Sources said the reaction of the youth when Ekandjo arrived prompted Geingob to arrange a meeting at a local hotel on Friday evening to brainstorm their strategy to oust Ngurare.
“Yes there was a meeting at Protea Hotel on Friday between the vice president (Geingob), Nangolo Mbumba and Armas Amukwiyu and them. Their intent was to disrupt the congress because they were not making it. They came with an agenda that Ngurare will not win,” Ngurare told The Namibian yesterday.
Asked about the said meeting, Amukwiyu denied any knowledge of it. “No, there was no meeting,” he said.
Sources said some people who were part of the Ngurare camp also attended the meeting clandestinely and reported to their peers in detail.
At the same time, Minister of Youth, Kazenambo Kazenambo, one of the main campaigners of Geingob, apparently tried to drag President Hifikepunye Pohamba into their fight. He reportedly tried to get him to postpone the congress using an excuse that delegates of Ohangwena and Otjozondjupa regions were sent out, which was not the case.
The youth league congress was told about Kazenambo’s alleged move by Ngurare from the podium during one of the sessions.
Graham Hopwood from the Institute for Public Policy Research told The Namibian that he found it strange that the Geingob group in SPYL persisted with their campaign to get rid of Ngurare, while they were aware that they were fighting a lost battle.
“I don’t know why they were so desperate while it was clear that they did not have a workable strategy to oust Ngurare.”
He said the group should rather have spent more energy on the party’s main congress.
“The outcome of the SPYL congress will not help Geingob’s case as one of the main contenders to take over from Pohamba,” Hopwood said.
Another political analyst, Phanuel Kaapama, said the re-election of Ngurare was not unexpected and agreed that the outcome might have an effect on the chances of Geingob’s victory at the end of the year’s congress.
“It is these ... victories that will play a decisive role at the end of the day,” said Kaapama.