Swapo faces fresh presidential contest

Helmut Angula

The death of president Hage Geingob has ignited a fresh leadership race within Swapo, prompting a reconfiguration of key party roles, including those of vice president and president.

While the party presidency is the primary focus, attention is also directed to the selection of a vice president, seen as a precursor to determining the potential successor of Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who is poised to solidify her leadership within the party.

Yesterday, Swapo’s Soviet style politburo held a meeting to discuss the next steps following Geingob’s death on Sunday.
The meeting, which was held at Swapo’s headquarters in Windhoek, was aimed at charting a course for the party’s future and to set the stage for the election of a new Swapo president.

“The meeting is currently taking place to map the way forward. By the looks of it, the politburo will direct the central committee to call for an extraordinary congress where a new leadership will be elected,” a politburo member said yesterday.

The meeting was expected to instruct Swapo’s central committee to call for an extraordinary congress, which should happen within three months of the president’s death, according to Swapo’s constitution.

The congress is Swapo’s highest decision-making body.

“In the event the president is unable to permanently perform his or her duties or carry out his or her functions for whatever reasons, an extraordinary congress shall be called by the central committee within three months of the vacancy occurring to elect a new president to complete the unexpired term of the former president, unless such vacancy occurs six months prior to the ordinary congress,” Swapo’s constitution reads.

The delegates to the extraordinary congress would be the same as those who attended the ordinary highly contested elective congress in 2022, where Nandi-Ndaitwah defeated minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta and prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila for the Swapo vice president position.

Minister of defence and veterans affairs Frans Kapofi, who vied for the post, withdrew from the race reportedly on the advice of former president Hifikepunye Pohamba.

It’s unclear whether Kapofi will give it another shot to battle for the vice president position, which will be vacated by Nandi-Ndaiwah, who needs to obtain the party presidency to be considered as its candidate for the national presidential polls.

Former Cabinet minister Helmut Angula yesterday said Swapo has to convene a central committee meeting to call for an extraordinary congress within three months to elect a substantive Swapo president.

Nahas Angula

“In the meantime, the vice president of the party presides over both politburo and central committee meetings,” he said.
Former prime minister Nahas Angula also said the central committee should call for an extraordinary congress to elect a new party president.

Former minister Jerry Ekandjo last year wrote to Geingob, arguing that the 2022 Swapo congress did not elect a presidential candidate for the 2024 national elections, casting doubt on the legitimacy of Nandi-Ndaitwah’s endorsement as the party’s top candidate.

Ekandjo yesterday did not respond to questions.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah says since Nandi-Ndaitwah is the party vice president, she is likely to be elected as Swapo president to replace Geingob.

“But what makes it complicated is that there has been voices of discord within the party, so if they have to hold that extraordinary congress to elect the president, I am sure there will be people who are going to throw their hats in that election, and that might complicate issues.

“I foresee a bit of a leadership crisis there if it is not handled carefully,” he says.

Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa did not respond to questions yesterday.

She paid tribute to Geingob via social media.

“Swapo mourns the passing of its president Cde, Dr Hage Gott­fried Geingob. Our nation has lost a gallant giant and stalwart of our liberation struggle, an epitome of resilience, justice, peace and hope of millions, here and abroad,” she posted.

She added: “Indeed, a dark cloud has befallen us [sic], our hearts are broken, but we would like to assure you, the Geingob family and the Namibian nation, that we are grieving with you. Your pain is our pain, and your sorrow is our sorrow,” she said.

The politburo consists of Swapo vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, and Cabinet ministers Frans Kapofi, Iipumbu Shiimi, John Mutorwa and Anna Nghipondoka, among others.

Other members are deputy minister of mines and energy Kornelia Shilunga, deputy minister of industrialisation and trade Verna Sinimbo, deputy minister of marginalised people Royal /Ui/o/oo, deputy minister of works and transport Veiko Nekundi and deputy minister of gender equality Bernadette Jagger.

The list further includes Swapo Party Youth League secretary general Ephraim Nekongo, Hofni Iipinge, parliamentarian Modestus Amutse, legislator Maria Elago, Rehoboth Urban constituency councillor Edward Wambu and lawyer Sisa Namandje.

Also on the politburo list are former education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, Namibian ambassador to China Elia Kaiyamo, Steve Ovambo and governors Sirkka Ausiku and Laura McLeod-Katjirua.

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!

Latest News