With less than three weeks left for the Swapo Party to elect members at the Electoral College for the National Assembly, top party members vying to be re-elected are playing their cards close to the chest and have not revealed whether they will stand for re-election.
Prominent Swapo veteran politicians, who have already served three terms and are still in the Swapo structures, are mum or are refusing to comment on whether they will stand for re-election when the leadership race to Parliament starts on 2-3 September at the Electoral College (The Pot).
Currently, 85 people represent Swapo in the National Assembly based on the number of seats won at the 2014 national elections. The results of the vote in the Electoral College for the 2019 Pot will produce a list of elected members in numbered order poised to fill Parliamentary seats won by the Swapo party at the national general elections in November.
Approached for comment on whether he would stand for re-election, veteran politician and Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, Erkki Nghimtina said that he would reserve his comment as it is a personal matter.
Other veteran politicians of the party, including Speaker of the National Assembly, Peter Katjavivi; Minister of Safety and Security, Retired Major General Charles Namoloh and former Minister of Presidential Affairs, Immanuel Ngatjizeko who reportedly missed 100 sessions of the National Assembly due to ill-health, could not be reached for comment to establish if they would stand for re-election.
The Swapo Secretary-General, Sophia Shaningwa, refused to answer questions as to whether any members gave indication not to stand for re-election, saying that it was an internal matter and abruptly declared that, “journalists would not get information from her.”
In a letter dated, 16 July, Shaningwa invited party regional coordinators to nominate candidates to 2019 The Pot, with deadline submissions set for today (9 August), while coordinators were also directed to observe the “Zebra-style” or 50-50 style of nominating three women and three men at all times.
The regional executive committees are to identify six delegates from each region to send to the Swapo Headquarters for vetting to the Electoral College.
Shaningwa also sent another communiqué to the CC members and party members in the National Assembly on 25 July requesting them to indicate in writing by 17 August their non-availability as candidates to the Electoral College.
The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) is seeking an uncompromising 40 percent representation to the National Assembly and according to SPYL secretary-general, Ephraim Nekongo, the resolution, which was taken at the youth congress in the Zambezi Region in 2017 still stands.
He said that they have not yet pronounced themselves on who they would field for The Pot, but they would definitely send young candidates between 21-36 years old.
However, Nekongo said that young people did not join the youth league just so they can go to Parliament, but “to serve our people” and added the process has been there in the Swapo party for youth to gradually take over.
Asked if he would stand when nominated to The Pot, Nekongo said it was not his ambition to do so even though he is an automatic candidate for the CC.
“But I will let you know if the young people want me,” he added.
Veteran Swapo politician and former Prime Minister, Nahas Angula said that he was one of the people who came up with the idea of The Pot and also supervised the first Electoral College.
He said he does not see a problem with the youth vying for 40 percent representation, but it has to be done in accordance with party rules, which includes building coalitions and alliances with other party wings.
However, he said that the issue of generational identity, “was not helping us as a country and party.”
The former Prime Minister stated that the youth was an important force, but with the country in crisis mode as regards to unemployment, recession, poverty and inequality, we need cool heads who will not use political office for self-benefit.
“We were there for self-sacrifice [in the struggle]. I am not sure if today’s youth are like that – if the youth is ready to sacrifice and are ready to build, then it’s fine,” he said.
When it comes to the unions, NUNW president, Phillipus Munenguni said that he will participate as long as rules and procedures of the party are followed.
He said that he does not know which unionists have been nominated for The Pot and referred further questions to the NUNW secretary-general Job Muniaro.
Muniaro said that they were going to field six members to The Pot, but also did not want to reveal the likely candidates.
Asked if he would stand if nominated to The Pot, he said that “it will be a decision for all of us to take”.
Napwu secretary general, Peter Nevonga declined to comment when asked if he would stand if nominated to The Pot, saying that the names of those who will stand will be given to the relevant office and not to the media first.
The Swapo Electoral College was at first slated for 25-28 July but was postponed to 2-3 September 2019 as regional coordinators pushed for an extension to get their houses in order.
Delegates qualify for The Pot when they hold ten years of uninterrupted party membership with up-to-date membership payments and a record of good conduct.
Swapo’s Electoral College includes 83 central committee members, 17 Members of Parliament who are not in the CC, six members from each of the 14 regions, five delegates from the Elders Council, ten women from the Women’s Council, six delegates from the SPYL and six members from the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW).
Party members nominate delegates from each of the 14 regions while all the Swapo regional co-coordinators automatically qualify for The Pot.
The Swapo vice-president, secretary-general and the deputy secretary-general are automatically picked as the top three on the National Assembly list, followed by ten individuals nominated by the party’s president.
The Electoral College elects the residual 59 persons who will complete the party’s National Assembly list though the final number of party members that will be sworn in as Parliamentarians will remain unconfirmed until after the November elections results.
In 2014, numerous veteran politicians, also referred to as the ‘old guard’, did not make it to the party list while others withdrew from contesting at the Electoral College.
Some of the old guards who failed to make the list were Petrina Haingura, late Rosalia Nghidinwa, Richard Kamwi, Albert Kawana, Hilma Nicanor, Jerry Ekandjo, Lempy Lucas, Uahekua Herunga, late Peter Iilonga, Paulus Kapia, Ben Amadhila and late Theo-Ben Gurirab.
Those who withdrew their names from the contest at that time included Libertine Amathila, Helmut Angula, Kazenambo Kazenambo, Armas Amukwiyu, Elijah Ngurare, David Hamutenya, Peter Nevonga, Clemence Kashuupulwa and Eric Endjala.
It is not clear if the old guard could face the same fate this year, but with the youth vying for 40 percent of the seats in the National Assembly, the 2014 scenario could repeat itself.