Nahas Angula, who served as Namibia’s third Prime Minister between 2005 and 2012 has laughed at the current crop of Parliamentarians, whom he described as a disaster.
The former Premier and Namibia’s first Minister of Education, said he believes that the current zebra style system which saw more women going to Parliament on a SWAPO Party ticket in 2015, has not benefited the country as envisaged.
“I look at the current Parliament and I ask myself, what are we trying to achieve? We thought things would be good, but it is a disaster,” Angula said.
"SWAPO educated the first crop of parliamentarians. They were well-educated and experienced, but now as I see, the young people who are professional and competent, don’t trust politics. Competent people don’t go to Parliament. It is people who cannot get jobs who go to Parliament. That is a tragedy, but this is what you get when you have rules or policies which are not properly thought through.”
Commenting on the aspirations of the SWAPO Party Youth League (SPYL) to have a 40 percent representation in Parliament next year, Angula said people should be allowed to compete on merit. He added that he was against the idea of having reservations in politics for special groups of people, including women.
“You cannot just elect someone because they are a woman. People should compete so that they can get the best out of the candidates.
“If you have these reservations, I am also going to say veterans should be taken care of or that the senior citizens or long-serving members of SWAPO should be considered. So these special reservations are not helping us in anywhere,” said Angula, who also served as the country’s Defence Minister from 2012 until his retirement from active politics in 2015.
Advising delegates to the ruling party’s electoral college which starts this Friday and continues until Sunday, Angula said they should elect people with integrity.
He said the practice of voting people to Parliament based on age or gender is utter “rubbish”.
“I don’t think that age matters, it is just a number. What matters is that a person should be committed to serve the people and be competent to make contributions to the agenda. They should also be a person of integrity, who is a role model, especially to young people. It is also important that a person is hard-working to achieve certain goals, so age, gender or whatever doesn’t matter to me. It is rubbish.”
Asked what his views were on party members convicted of crimes who are in the running for Parliamentary positions next year, Angula said only people with integrity should be chosen.
“You should have integrity, be reliable and ethical because you are representing other people and not yourself. So if people are allowing convicted criminals to stand then obviously there is something wrong somewhere. If the public was allowed to vote, as a citizen, I would not elect somebody who was convicted.”
This comes as former Education Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa and former Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) Managing Director Tobie Aupindi, who were convicted of corruption and fined for their crimes, have indicated that they would stand at the SWAPO Party’s electoral college.
Hanse-Himarwa was fined N$50,000 by the Windhoek High Court in August after she was found guilty of corruptly using her office or position as the former governor of the Hardap region to obtain gratification for herself or another person.
Aupindi was also fined N$50,000 after he was found guilty in a case involving the installation of a swimming pool at his house in Windhoek in 2006, which was paid for by businessman Antonio di Savino.
Aupindi was charged with corruptly providing false information to an officer of the Anti-Corruption Commission.
SWAPO parliamentarians, Marina Kandumbu from Kavango and Esther Anna Nghipondoka, the current Education Deputy Minister, were also convicted by the courts for different offenses.
Kandumbu was convicted on corruption charges at Rundu in November 2014, for which she was sentenced to five years imprisonment or a fine of N$100,000.
Four years or N$90,000 was suspended on condition that Kandumbu, who was employed as an education planner by the Ministry of Education in the Kavango East region, pays the fine in installments from 27 November 2014.
The SWAPO Party backbencher was convicted under the Anti-Corruption Act for using her position in government for personal gratification after she rented out a government subsidised house.
Nghipondoka was convicted for common assault and sentenced to N$700 or four months imprisonment by the Oshakati Magistrate’s Court after she struck teacher Tobias Nandjiwa on 17 February 2012.
Reacting to Angula’s comments, SWAPO Executive Director Austin Samupwa said all the party’s candidates to Parliament go through a rigorous vetting process.
“Everyone who is vetted by the SWAPO Party qualifies to be in Parliament,” Samupwa said.
He said SWAPO is not short of skilled manpower and good politicians.
“We are not short of that, we have plenty. I believe that everybody who was vetted has those skills.”
He said the party has always had a balance between mature politicians and those with skills.
“We have members who might not have skills but are mature politicians. We respect such people because they have kept the party afloat all these years.
The ruling party CEO said there are people who are well-educated, skilled and know what to do, but they are not schooled in SWAPO, they don’t understand what SWAPO is, its ideology, aims, and objectives.
“So when you take the extreme of each, you don’t get the balance. The balance is in getting mature politicians and also skilled politicians who can move this country forward,” he said.