Pohamba will remain president

19 October 2012

NOT so very long ago senior Swapo leaders called for an orderly succession process to choose the party’s next president-in-waiting, using what they described as a system of ‘guided democracy’.

Some regard the whole concept of guided democracy with scepticism and seem to have a deep-rooted suspicion that it is merely an attempt by the party hierarchy to impose a candidate on them.
The heated political atmosphere of the past two weeks and apparent confusion within party ranks has strengthened the conviction of others that there really is a need for some form of orderly process.
Yes, we all want a democratic process, but it should not degenerate into a free-for-all, chaos or widespread anarchy. Too much is at stake for both Swapo and the country.
In the week leading up to the Swapo Central Committee, people seem to be employing smoke and mirrors and the tactic of throwing out red herrings in an attempt to bamboozle people.
Others burn the midnight oil cooking up conspiracy theories all calculated to obfuscate and confuse rather than bring clarity and reassurance.
The decision by the Swapo Youth League to nominate three almost ‘geriatric’ retired army generals as youth delegates to the party congress seems to fall into this category of creating all-round confusion.
The only scenario that could have been more bizarre is if the Swapo Women’s Council had dressed the generals up in odelela in an attempt to smuggle them into the congress as women delegates.
The move set the cat among the pigeons, because it fuelled wild speculation about what hidden hand directed the SPYL to nominate the three generals.
This has gone further with people speculating about what hidden hand persuaded the generals to decline the nominations, and whether it was the same or different hand at work on both occasions.
Even more alarming, is the suggestion that the SPYL nominated the retired generals as a Zanu-PF inspired terror tactic to spread fear by holding the spectre of a potential military coup d’état over people’s heads.
People seem to forget an important but very fundamental reality that they will have to live with on the day they wake up after this weekend’s Swapo CC meeting.
The reality is that whatever candidate emerges as the winner in the vice-presidential contest President Hifikepunye Pohamba will remain as president of the country for the next two years.
Pohamba will not only remain president of the country but also president of Swapo for the next two years – and possibly well beyond that period.
The vice-presidency of the party is not an abstract position – with its own independent existence. Neither does it operate in isolation from the president of the party.
This means the vice-president of the party has to function as the right-hand man (or woman) of the president, or if you like as an extension of the president of the party.
In practical terms, this suggests that the party has to elect a vice-president that Pohamba feels comfortable with.
It has to be someone he enjoys a good working relationship with and can continue working with effectively for the remainder of his term at the helm of the party.
Whether or not you believe there was a hidden hand at work, or that the SPYL is merely trying to sow confusion one thing remains true.
There were clearly other important reasons behind the SPYL decision to nominate Generals Salomon ‘Jesus’ Hawala, Martin Shalli and Peter Nambundunga.
Similarly, there are no doubt good reasons why the SPYL has now come out so strongly in favour of Minister of Regional and Local Government Jerry Ekandjo as its candidate for the vice-presidency of the party.
However, a sudden shift has obviously taken place because previously everyone believed that the SPYL, and particularly its Secretary Dr Elijah Ngurare, steadfastly backed Secretary-General of the party Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana for the vice-presidency.
The SPYL, above all else, wants to feel that it has a voice in the process and to ensure that it remains relevant as an organisation.
No one would argue with the democratic right of the youth to make its voice heard, although sometimes one might question the manner in which it does this.
For most of the eight years that Pohamba has served as president of the SPYL, the youth wing has made no secret of its disdain for him as leader of the country and the party.
Some go as far as saying the SPYL has deliberately undermined the president at almost every turn.
It is, therefore, difficult to see how candidates such as Iivula-Ithana and Ekandjo, who have openly aligned themselves with the SPYL, could have anything but an uneasy, if not difficult, working relationship with Pohamba.
A victorious SPYL backed candidate this weekend could face the dilemma of divided loyalties and being pulled in two different directions.



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