Push for Venaani’s uncontested presidency

McHenry Venaani
…Muharukua not interested in the job

Some leaders in the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) are allegedly pushing for party leader McHenry Venaani to retain his position as president uncontested during the party’s upcoming congress.

This was supposed to take place last June.

Member of parliament Vipuakuje Muharukua, who has been seen as a rising star in the party to challenge Venaani, yesterday told The Namibian he is not interested in the top position.

“I am not interested in any conversation about the party congress and whether the party president position is going to be contested or not, it’s immaterial to me,” he said.

Venaani yesterday confirmed that he would stand to be re-elected at this year’s elective congress. Some party leaders say there is a push within the party to not challenge Venaani.

“The party president position is not going to be contested for. This means the incumbent is the party’s presidential candidate,” a source said this week.

If re-elected at the upcoming congress, it would be Venaani’s last term as PDM president, as the party constitution only allows the president to serve for three terms.

However, Venaani seems to be in disagreement with this interpretation.

“Most people confuse presidential limits of states with those of political parties, which are not the same. National term limits are meant for heads of state to leave office, whereas at parties leaders must be given the chance and time to wrestle power of statehood,” he said.

Venaani said as a “constitutionalist he will not temper with extending his term limits beyond the provision of the PDM constitution”.

He cited examples of former opposition leaders Hakainde Hichilema, Lazarus Chakwera and Akuffo Addo from Zambia, Malawi and Ghana, respectively, whom he said led their parties for 20 and 15 years before they became state presidents.

Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera was an opposition leader for 15 years before he was re-elected.

“Akuffo Addo of Ghana served 15 years before attaining office, hence our careful consideration in 2017 when we rebranded to give space to attempt to wrestle power,” Venaani said.

He was initially elected as PDM president in 2014, and was re-elected in 2019.

If re-elected this year, his third term, which will also be his last, would come to an end in 2029.

Vipuakuje Muharukua


The party’s secretary general, Manuel Ngaringombe, confirmed his intention to seek re-election but did not disclose the specific date for the congress.

“When the time comes, I will make an announcement. It will be very soon. We will announce it as per our party constitution. All media houses will know,” he said this week.

A party source revealed that the central committee would convene first to decide on the official date, with a 60-day notice period mandated.

Another source suggested former parliamentarian Johannes Martin may challenge Ngaringombe, although Martin himself yesterday downplayed this, stating: “The issue of the congress is out of my reach.”

Former youth leader Benson Katjirijova said he is interested in the party’s deputy secretary general position, which is currently occupied by former Oshakati town councillor Linus Tobias.

The race for vice president promises to be exciting, with Elma Dienda reportedly considering to run.

She would face stiff competition from incumbent Jennifer van den Heever and former legislator Esmeralda !Abes.

However, Dienda vehemently denied any such plans when contacted for comment yesterday.

“Just give me the name of one person who feeds you with lies. I never, never said to anyone I am interested in contesting for any position at the elective congress.

“Ask your sources to tell you who I spoke to about it. It’s not true. I did not even think about it,” she said.

Van den Heever confirmed that she would seek to be re-elected as party vice president.

“Yes, I will contest,” she said.

Nico Smit, the party’s current treasurer general, remained vague about his intentions.

“I might consider it,” he said.

Smit would be likely to be challenged by party member Pieter Mostert.

Mostert told The Namibian yesterday that many people in the PDM have asked him to stand for the position, but he declined.

“Since my exit from parliament, I decided to go low level with politics. I am not available for any position for now,” he said.

Current party chairperson Diederik Vries will allegedly wrestle Godfred Mwilima for the position.

Mwilima said if he is interested in the position it has got nothing to do with the media.

“It’s premature for me to comment, but I don’t have any interest in any party position,” he said.

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