Swapo CC on saturday to decide on extraordinary congress

Uahekua Herunga

The Swapo central committee meeting will decide on Saturday whether the party will have an extraordinary congress, Swapo deputy secretary general Uahekua Herunga told The Namibian yesterday.

The extraordinary congress is also expected to elect the party’s president and vice president.

Herunga said those calling on the party to hold an extraordinary congress should wait for the central committee meeting to decide this coming weekend. “It will pronounce itself only after the weekend and the public will be informed what will be the way forward,” Herunga said.

The death of president Hage Geingob last month created a leadership vacuum within Swapo.

Some party leaders reportedly believe vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah should become the party president without being elected by the party congress. However, some Swapo members claim this is a violation of the party’s constitution.

The central committee is dominated by party vice president Nandi-Ndaitwah’s faction.

Swapo veteran Ben Amathila said the decision ultimately lies with the central committee.

“If it’s tabled at the central committee, people will certainly look at it and decide one way or the other,” Amathila said.

It is unclear who will contest for the top positions within Swapo.

Defence and veterans affairs minister Frans Kapofi on Sunday denied harbouring presidential ambitions.

“I have never told anybody, nor did I publish any intention. It was just a while ago that I was a candidate then I withdrew my candidature. You think I am that person who just… today you decide like this, tomorrow you decide like this? I am not that kind of a character,” Kapofi said.

He added that those who want him to stand and those who do not want him to stand should mind their own business and leave him alone.

Some party insiders say the leadership want a non-Oshiwambo speaking candidate for the vice president position. Potential candidates include former Swapo Party Youth League secretary Elijah Ngurare and deputy prime minister John Mutorwa.

Former prime minister Nahas Angula said those saying the extraordinary congress should not happen are violating the party constitution.

“Why do they want to violate the constitution of their own party? What will prevent them if they win to violate the Namibian Constitution?” Angula said. The Namibian reported on Friday that the Swapo politburo last week endorsed Nandi-Ndaitwah as Swapo’s presidential candidate for the national elections scheduled for November.

The politburo also wants the extraordinary congress moved to 2025 to prevent internal divisions just months before the national and presidential elections. Potential challengers for the top Swapo positions have reportedly already threatened the ruling party with legal action.

About two weeks ago, former Cabinet minister Jerry Ekandjo said he believes the position of the party president at the upcoming extraordinary congress should be reserved for men in order to achieve gender balance.

“The strong point is that only men should run for the Swapo presidency at the extraordinary congress,” Ekandjo said. During the interview with The Namibian, he called for Nandi-Ndaitwah’s resignation if she wants to challenge for the party presidency.

Nandi-Ndaitwah is widely regarded as the favourite to win the presidential contest at the upcoming congress.

Geingob’s death, however, has raised debate about possible gender imbalances in terms of Swapo’s zebra style system. This system commits Swapo to filling its top four positions and parliamentarian list with a 50/50 gender balance, whereby if for example, the party president is a man, the vice president should be a woman, and vice versa.

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