Shaningwa, Venaani in war of words over ‘pensioner’ candidates

McHenry Venaani

A war of words has erupted between Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa and Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani over fielding older candidates in the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

While speaking at a political rally at Okalongo on Saturday, Venaani said Namibians should not vote for “pensioners” in the November election.

He said this in apparent reference to Swapo candidate Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah (71) and Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) head Panduleni Itula (66).

Venaani said the youth, who form 71% of the Namibian population, should vote for young leaders, citing the example of Senegal recently electing Bassirou Faye (44) as president.

So far, Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leader Bernardus Swartbooi (45) has been confirmed as a candidate for the presidential election, alongside Nandi-Ndaitwah for Swapo and IPC’s Itula.

PDM will hold its elective congress in June this year, where Venaani (46) is expected to be endorsed as president of the party.

“I want to appeal to you, don’t elect pensioners into office. Elect a leader who is young like you. You can’t go and elect pensioners who are sleeping on the job.”

He further said he will work for the youth, and if they vote for Nandi-Ndaitwah, she will sleep at international platforms.

“My blood is boiling, Netumbo will sleep at the [UN] General Assembly. She has already started sleeping. Venaani is alive, he will work for you, he will work everywhere, every day, without sleeping for you,” he said.

Responding to The Namibian yesterday regarding Venaani’s comments, Shaningwa said Venaani needs “more sleep to grow” and to be reminded that “sleeping is not by application”.

“Venaani must be reminded that honourable Netumbo can stand the pressure of not [falling] asleep in meetings because she got enough sleep. Venaani is younger and needs more sleep to grow,” Shaningwa said.

She said Nandi-Ndaitwah never slept on duty at the United Nations General Assembly.

“Indeed, Venaani must wait as deep sleep at his age would affect him more than Netumbo. Claiming that Netumbo is a pensioner, that for me is an issue of a pull her down syndrome strategy,” Shaningwa said.

Venaani also urged the youth not to listen to those who claim he will sell the country if elected as president.

“Venaani is a genuine patriotic republican. I will not sell this country to foreigners. I will never sell the future of Namibians. I have the necessary pedigree and experience to be able to keep unity in our country.

“I am not a tribalist. I am a patriotic Namibian who is ready to change the course of our country. I don’t speak because I want power, I speak because I speak the truth. I am the leader who brought young leaders to parliament and Swapo copied from me,” Venaani said.

He described the youth as instruments of change in the 2024 elections and said they should not be intimidated when they choose who they want to lead them.

“No parents should intimidate you. Tell your friends that the time for change is now.”

Sophia Shaningwa


Venaani further urged the youth to vote for him and reject claims that if they vote for him he will bring wars.

“I will bring no war to this country. I am a man of peace. Tell those telling you that I will bring war to this country if you vote for me that they are talking nonsense,” Venaani said.

He further said the PDM wants a free and fair election and Swapo leaders should not lie about others.

“When they hear that PDM is strong in Okalongo, they will bring you drought relief food. If they give you food, eat but don’t sell your soul for food. They will come with many promises,” Venaani said.

Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah


Venaani further took a swipe at Nandi-Ndaitwah about accusing opposition party leaders of interfering in Namibian internal matters when they engage with foreign ambassadors.

Venaani said interference is when Angolan nationals living along the Namibia-Angola borders are allowed to participate in Namibian elections.

“I will not sell this country, but I will speak to anyone I want. Tell Mee Netumbo, my dear mother, interference is when you have Angolans voting in Namibia. She is quiet about Angolan nationals voting in Namibia. That is political interference because she is benefiting from Angolan votes,” Venaani said.

He challenged Nandi-Ndaitwah and international relations and cooperation minister Peya Mushelenga to call the Angolan ambassador to Namibia and tell her that Angolan nationals should not vote in Namibian elections.

“Tell her (Angolan ambassador) that you are our neighbours, we love you, stay in Angola, live in Namibia, and vote in your own elections,” he said.

Venaani also used the opportunity to accuse the IPC of attacking him and his party.

He said the IPC questions his credentials.

“You just came yesterday, you are quoting the Constitution. You are sending threats that Swapo hooligans must not do … stop your hooligans. Why are they attacking us?”

Venaani said his party does not have any issue with IPC as its main aim is to dislodge Swapo’s power.

Peya Mushelenga


“Some of you were still enjoying Swapo when we were fighting. Now you are saying you will bring change, [saying] Venaani is not serious, when did you get serious?”

Venaani said most of the parties that break away from Swapo always go back to Swapo 10 years after their formation.

“Where is Ben Ulenga today? They started CoD, they are together there in Swapo. There was RDP, may their soul rest in peace, Hidipo Hamutenya went back to Swapo. This one that is making a lot of noise here, after 10 years, [he] will go back to Swapo,” Venaani said.

Venaani claimed he has a proven track record of fighting Swapo in parliament and getting things done.

He said it is through PDM that pensioners get a N$1 600 monthly social grant and added that if elected, the pensioners will get N$4 000 per month.

He also asserted that it is through the PDM that military outfit August 26 Holding is being audited, that former defence minister Peter Vilho resigned and Fishrot was exposed.

IPC spokesperson Immanuel Nashinge yesterday said it is a pity that Venaani spends time talking about the IPC at his rally.

“We at IPC, a national political party, are focused on what we need to do for the people of Namibia to ensure victory. Let us focus on the business of elections in harmony,” Nashinge said.

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