Swapo didn’t elect presidential candidate – Ekandjo

Jerry Ekandjo

Former minister Jerry Ekandjo has said last year’s Swapo congress did not elect a presidential candidate for the 2024 national elections, casting doubt on deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah’s endorsement as the party’s top candidate.

The Namibian last week reported that Ekandjo has requested Geingob to convene an extraordinary congress this year to nominate the ruling party’s presidential candidate.

The ex-minister then claimed that The Namibian published a story based on unverified information.

The Namibian has since obtained the actual letter, addressed to Geingob around four weeks ago, which spells out Ekandjo’s main motivation for calling an extraordinary congress.

Ekandjo cited Swapo’s constitution, which states that “any party member who wishes to stand as Swapo party candidate for the president of the Republic of Namibia ought to be nominated and voted for at the ordinary or extraordinary congress”.

He added: “The 2022 ordinary congress did not nominate, vote or endorse any candidate to stand as the Swapo party presidential candidate of the Republic of Namibia for the presidential and National Assembly elections slated for 2024.”

The former minister has failed to win three Swapo vice presidency contests since 2012. It’s unclear whether he wants to compete for the position himself.

“It is therefore recommended that an extraordinary congress be held as soon as possible to elect the Swapo party’s presidential candidate for the upcoming 2024 presidential elections . . ,” he said.

Ekandjo said ruling party rules are in conflict with Swapo’s constitution.

“The notion that the election of any aspiring presidential candidate outside of (the ‘Top Four’) cannot run for the Presidency, due to the possibility of causing disunity within the Swapo party, does not comply with the party constitution,” he said.

Ekandjo did not answer questions sent to him.

“Send me the questions on WhatsApp, so I can answer you,” he said.

Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa forwarded Ekandjo’s letter to Geingob on 22 June.

“The office of the secretary general received a letter from comrade Jerry Ekandjo,” she said.

Geingob is said to be studying the letter to respond to Ekandjo, who is accused of trying to use his anti-homosexual momentum to revive his political fortunes.

Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah


Ekandjo’s letter was endorsed by various individuals whose names and signatures were added at the end of the letter.

One of them is Khomas congress delegate Maria Shiweva.

“I am aware of the letter. Congress only elected the top-four leaders and did not elect the person who will represent the party at the upcoming elections,” she said.

Shiweva said Ekandjo did not say whether he plans to run for the position, but she has vowed to support the former youth minister.

Others who endorsed the letter include Luise Amukuhu and Tania Iiyambo. They confirmed Ekandjo’s letter.

Swapo has over the years allowed its vice presidents to be automatic candidates in presidential elections.

This rule applied to Hifikepunye Pohamba when Sam Nujoma was party president up to 2007.

Pohamba pushed for his vice president, Geingob, in 2012 to be the party’s presidential candidate.

At last year’s congress, Geingob announced Nandi-Ndaitwah as the party’s presidential candidate.

This is after she won the race for the party’s vice president position against prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta.

“Elections took place, and we have the results. We are going to have one candidate only. That will be Nandi-Ndaitwah, and we will campaign and we have a person who will lead us,” Geingob said.

Ekandjo believes this practice is against the constitution.

Questions sent to Nandi-Ndaiwah were not answered.

Her party faction, including her right hand, Shaningwa, have praised Ekandjo’s anti-gay bills. It’s unclear if the latest revelations could swing Nandi-Ndaiwah’s camp towards Ekandjo.

Sources say there are indications of the recurrence of the “vote party, but not the candidate” approach, which was employed by the anti-Geingob faction during the 2019 elections.

Certain Swapo leaders faced allegations of encouraging party members to vote for Independent Patriots for Change candidate Panduleni Itula in the 2019 presidential elections.

Nandi-Ndaitwah has in recent months engaged with different factions, aiming to foster unity within the party. Nonetheless, concerns persist that the same strategy could resurface in the 2024 elections.

Geingob has, since taking over the party leadership in 2012 as party vice president, faced an internal onslaught, especially from various factions from the dominant northern regions.

Geingob has also benefited from the non-Oshiwambo candidacy narrative that propelled him to the throne of politics in Namibia.


Political commentator Rui Tyitende says the stakes are against Ekandjo.

“The tyranny of numbers is not in his favour, as the central committee is dominated by Nandi-Ndaitwah loyalists,” he says.

The Swapo constitution states that an extraordinary congress can only be initiated by the central committee or at the request of at least two thirds of all regional executive committees.

“Therefore, the question becomes: Does Ekandjo think or believe he has the support of members of the central committee or the majority of regional executive committees?” Tyitende says.

“It is important to note that Ekandjo has lost the contest of Swapo vice president in 2012, 2017 and 2022, scoring a hat-trick in an interrupted defeat.”

Tyitende says Ekandjo may be hoping the tide has turned in his favour.

“Perhaps Ekandjo is of the opinion that the tide has changed as a consequence of his anti-homosexual tirade that has received overwhelming support from both houses of parliament, the general public and Swapo’s key power brokers, such as the traditional authorities of north-central Namibia,” he says.

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