Former President Hifikepunye Pohamba has said that democracy must prevail at the upcoming SWAPO Party elective congress slated for November, amid increased jostling for party top positions.
Speaking during an exclusive interview with the Windhoek Observer on Thursday, Pohamba said he hopes that the party will continue with its democratic culture going into the congress and after.
He said democracy and democratic processes were nothing new to the SWAPO Party, citing the example of 2004, when he went head-to-head with Nahas Angula and the late Hidipo Hamutenya for the party presidency.
“We were three candidates and after I won, we hugged each other and were united in SWAPO,” he said.
Quizzed on whether he had a preferred candidate or candidates for the party leadership come November, Pohamba said he preferred unity.
“My wish is that the party will remain united,” he said.
When asked about the current controversy in the party on whether Acting President, Hage Geingob, should be a sole candidate for the party presidency, Pohamba was emphatic once again, stating that democracy must prevail.
“The majority must decide. If the majority has decided the minority must respect that decision.”
He said it has been the history and culture of SWAPO, from the struggle years, for the party to be democratic. Pohamba added that he hope that the party will continue to be democratic and united.
Pohamba becomes the most senior ruling party leader to openly speak about the upcoming SWAPO elective congress, which has been mudded by a lot of controversy, with the biggest being how Acting Party President Hage Geingob and Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba have been pushing for a sole candidate in the party presidency.
The duo has been accused of deliberately seeking to eliminate the possibility of Geingob being challenged for the party leadership position, a view some party leaders have said is undemocratic.
The Oshikoto, Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshana regions have previously stated that the party should allow the Politburo and Central Committee to make their nominations before people call for a sole candidacy in the SWAPO leadership.
Kunene region has since backtracked on its earlier position.
President or Acting
Pohamba, who has taken a backseat from the country’s politics, but remains an influential voice in the ruling party, weighed in on whether Geingob was president or acting president of the SWAPO Party, saying the issue was too technical.
He said after Geingob won the country’s presidency with an overwhelming majority, he felt he had to handover the party presidency.
“I felt I had to go, I did my part.”
The former president also said that he had followed proper procedures when he stepped down as leader of the ruling party.
“I did it in a constitutional manner to hand over power to President Geingob. I could not give power to the Secretary of Information or of Foreign Affairs,” he said.
He noted that Geingob was elected as the vice president of the party in 2012 and thus, he handed over the powers and functions of the presidency to him.
The soft-spoken former president said he also hope that an invitation will be extended to him to attend the November congress.
THE TEXT OF THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH PRESIDENT POHAMBA WILL APPEAR IN NEXT WEEK’S EDITION OF THE WINDHOEK OBSERVER.