Former Secretary General of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), Evilastus Kaaronda, believes that ousted NUNW President, Ismael Kasuto’s chances of making it back to the union are slim.
Kasuto was ousted as the union’s president at a special central executive committee meeting held on Saturday and recalled from all positions and organisations where he was serving as a NUNW representative, including the SWAPO central committee.
Kaaronda, who went through a similar experience during his time at the helm of the country’s biggest trade union, said, “Kasuto has no backing, even from his own union and is now up against a structure, a battle which he was unlikely to win.”
Kaaronda said Kasuto’s only saving grace could have been through the intervention of SWAPO if only the ruling party or its top leadership had shown interest in the affairs of the union.
He said SWAPO’s top leadership, especially its Acting President, Hage Geingob, and Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba, have failed to engage the NUNW leadership constructively and make their thoughts known about the developments at the union.
“During my time, former President Sam Nujoma courted the unions and invited them to the corridors of power, and the courtship was a sign of showing gratitude and appreciation. The courtship allowed the union leadership to feel as though they were part of the State leadership and thus were prepared to fight for the status quo to remain,” he said.
Kaaronda said Geingob had instead blocked people from the corridors of power and those with access are now his in-laws and personal friends.
“While Nujoma would go down to the level of the workers and engage them, Geingob behaves as though he is in a kingdom,” he said, adding that the ramblings at the unions showed that the Jerry Ekandjo camp is very much alive and had captured the institution.
Kaaronda stated that in his view, the Founding President and people around him are not keen to grant Geingob a second term and the unions seem to be supporting the idea.
“The senior party leaders, who could have lobbied for Geingob within the unions, also feel isolated and there is ambiguity in terms of loyalty.”
NUNW Secretary General, Job Muniaro, weighed in and defended the meeting which ousted Kasuto.
“The central committee meeting which voted out Kasuto was constitutional,” he said.
He said Kasuto presided over the meeting until he walked out after issues were raised against him.
According to reports, continued absenteeism from union meetings, gross negligence, and the inability to uphold the union’s constitution, were cited as reasons for Kasuto’s removal.
“The central committee meeting was called by the Exco of the NUNW, of which Kasuto was the chair. He even opened the meeting, which he now says is unconstitutional, did the roll call, adopted the agenda and only when issues were raised against him did he claim that the meeting was unconstitutional and walked out,” Muniaro said.
NUNW sends 16 delegates to the SWAPO Party elective congress slated for November.
“To my understanding, and what I think is the right approach for now, is that whoever wants to contest for any of the four positions must freely do so. That is what any democratic country does. For example, if Kazenambo Kazenambo wants to contest for any position, why should he not be allowed to do so? We are in a democratic country and that is my understanding of this approach.
“People like Jerry Ekandjo, Armas Amukwiyu, Marco Hausiku, Nahas Angula, Elijah Ngurare, and Helmut Angula are some of the good leaders, who should be contesting for any of the SWAPO top four positions. I don’t want to see tribal lines determining who should contest for this or that, but individuals who believe they have the ability to take the country forward, should be allowed to compete,” Petrus said.
Khomas SWAPO Congress delegate, Alma Otto, said that she does not believe in endorsements and the concept of sole candidacy. This is in direct contradiction to the recent announcement by the SWAPO Khomas Regional Executive Committee that it was endorsing Geingob as its sole candidate for the party presidency.
“Sole candidacy does not exist anywhere in the party’s constitution. It is something that is being taken out of proportion. It is a violation of the party rules and procedures. I don’t believe in sole candidacy and endorsement.
“Nominations of the politburo come to the central committee. Candidates from regional levels, who wish to run, can do so. Khomas has endorsed Geingob as the sole candidate, but the masses have not said that,” Otto said.
Oshikoto SWAPO Congress delegate, David Mulunga, said his region has asked Ekandjo to stand for the ruling party presidency, and that he has accepted.
“Various candidates should be given the opportunity to compete for the SWAPO top four posts. As for who I support going forward, I prefer Jerry Ekandjo for the presidency and Armas Amukwiyu for the secretary general post of the party.
“We have already spoken to him (Ekandjo) in our region, and he has agreed to run, so we will rally behind him in Oshikoto.
“I also do not support the 30 years of serving in the central committee, in order for one to be considered for any top positions. It should be 10 years. The 30 years being proposed does not make any sense,” Mulunga added.
Andreas Amundjindi, from the Uukwiyushona District, who will also be going to congress as an Oshikoto delegate, asked that the power of the Head of State and that of the party leader should be vested in two different individuals.
“There should be division of power in this country, and I am speaking as a delegate to the elective congress. What people should see is the distinction between the presidency of the country and the presidency of the SWAPO Party. Our current president must be allowed to finish his two terms.
“As for the presidency of SWAPO, the position should be available to those who want to contest. We need a good leadership in SWAPO that respects and adheres to party rules. The constitution requires delegates to serve at regional or district level, but recently I have seen that some people that don’t serve in any of these structures are now delegates to the congress. How is that allowed?” Amundjindi said.
Tuli Nuunyango, who is an Oshikoto delegate from Oniipa, said that Namibia should not talk about democracy, if individuals are not allowed to contest freely.
“The constitution of our party is very clear. It indicates that our politics are led by a democratic system. My concern is that if the SWAPO top four positions cannot be contested freely by anyone, as the constitution allows, then how do you say there is democracy in this country?
“I would like to see Jerry Ekandjo and Armas Amukwiyu running for whatever positions in the party. They are my top candidates.
“The 30 years suggested by Helmut Angula is a personal feeling move, which is unconstitutional,”Nuunyango said.
Kunene SWAPO Congress delegate, Sigried Gowaseb, said the concept of sole candidacy should not be entertained.
“We should not entertain a sole candidacy; we should have more than one candidate, like we have had in the past. People should contest for the top four positions. My preferred candidates are Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah for vice presidency Armas Amukwiyu for the SG position and Jerry Ekandjo for presidency,” Gowaseb said.
Kavango East delegate, Kandjeke Nyumbu, however, said that he supports Geingob as the sole candidate, to avoid competition.
“I support the sole candidacy. This is in order to minimise the competition within the party. If a sole candidate is a member, then why do we need to compete? If he is already doing well within the structures, why stand against the person?
“I know it is democracy, but sometimes we need to support our own comrade. I support Geingob and not any other person,” Nyumbu said.
Kavango East delegate, Gabriel Kanyanga, also said that he supports Geingob’s sole candidacy, as he should be allowed to serve two terms as Head of State.
“In order for the unity, and for tradition to continue, Geingob should be allowed to serve two terms and that should not be hijacked. That way we will have peace in this country. I support the sole candidacy move.
“The moment that we begin pushing something else, we create problems for the party and the country at large,” Kanyanga said.