President Hage Geingob is expected to face resistance from the SWAPO Party Central Committee on Sunday after he coerced the majority of his Cabinet ministers to endorse his candidate list for the ruling party’s top four positions in the Politburo on Thursday (12 October).
According to former Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, Geingob is said to have threatened Cabinet ministers last week Thursday telling them that they risk losing their jobs if they do not support his candidates and his bid for the party’s presidency.
The acting SWAPO Party president’s list comprises of Deputy Prime Minister and International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah (vice presidency), Urban and Rural Development Minister, Sophia Shaningwa (secretary general), former Deputy Prime Minister, Marco Hausiku (deputy secretary general) and Geingob as president.
Geingob summoned the ministers, who also form part of the SWAPO Politburo, to his private residence last week where they were asked to toe the line in ensuring that he and his preferred candidates get the required nominations and endorsements at Thursday’s Politburo meeting.
In an unprecedented move, the Minister of Justice, Albert Kawana, proposed that the seconding of candidates during the nomination process on Thursday should be done by show of hands, which saw the majority of Cabinet ministers complying after the nomination of the candidates.
To the surprise of those present, former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba, who Geingob had previously said had endorsed his list of candidates, did not second any of the candidates.
Politburo members that also did not second the list include Home Affairs and Immigration Minister, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, former Youth and Sport Minister, Kazenambo Kazenambo, current Minister of Youth, Sport and National Services and SWAPO presidential candidate, Jerry Ekandjo as well as Ben Amathila. Sources say Geingob is expected to try and push for public endorsements at Sunday’s Central Committee meeting, a move which is likely to face resistance.
Party sources said the public endorsements will be an attempt by Geingob to try and create the impression that he has the backing of the majority in the party which undermines the principle of a secret ballot just as he has tried to push for a sole candidacy.
Thursday’s events come as Geingob, in an effort to block any challenge for his party presidency ambitions, is said to have sent Vice President, Nickey Iyambo, to former Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, to plead with him not to stand in return for Geingob’s support if Angula opted for the SWAPO vice presidency.
Angula confirmed the development during an in-depth interview with the Windhoek Observer on Wednesday, revealing that other emissaries had also approached him not to stand for the SWAPO presidency.
“Well, I informed Dr Iyambo about my decision and he came up with an argument that it is too late, what what, we have to support the president, what what. I told him, ‘I have made my decision, my elder brother’ and that’s it,” Angula said.
“So I am standing, I am ready. If I don’t win, then I don’t win. If my comrades don’t have faith in me, then it is also their democratic choice. I will not complain or go hang myself. I will say those who will vote for me, thank you. Life goes on. We will then go ahead and continue to build our party.”
Quizzed about the meeting held between Geingob and selected members of the Politburo, Angula confirmed that he had been informed of the meeting and that he had been made aware that the president had attacked him over his decision to stand for the SWAPO presidency.
“I know that he called a number of his Cabinet ministers who are members of the Politburo to his house on Wednesday night to call me names there, one of those names he did say was I am selfish. I said fine, I am selfish, but we are all selfish because if it was not out of selfishness we will not be seeking political office,” Angula said.
“The fact that President Geingob called some members of the Politburo who happened to be his appointees and threatened them, that has actually compromised the state of the Politburo. People are out there not making decisions according to their own consciences, but because of fear, and when people are acting out of fear or under threat, then that is not democracy. People are supposed to make decisions according to their own conscience.”
The former premier said he was not moved by the name calling.
“I don’t care about such characterisations. I made a decision to seek nomination for the SWAPO Party presidency. It is not a decision against anybody, but I am expressing my democratic right as a long-time member of the SWAPO Party,” he said.
He added that his decision to challenge Geingob for the SWAPO presidency was driven by the need to protect the party.
“The reason why I am disappointed by President Geingob’s decision is because he broke an unwritten rule of SWAPO that says one should follow seniority. When you follow seniority then there is some predictability in the process. When you start choosing either your friends or people who you think you can control, that creates chaos and disorder in the party. That is what I am protesting against. There has to be order in the party, we must respect seniority in the party,” Angula said.
He accused Geingob and SWAPO Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba, of leading the party away from its founding principles.
“SWAPO as it is now, under the current acting president and the secretary general, is just an empty shell with no value systems or ideologies to guide people. That is why people are just fighting for resources and not for the common good of the nation. They are fighting for personal benefits,” Angula said.
When pushed about whether he has enough time to campaign, seeing that congress is only next month, Angula said there are procedures on how things should be done.
“The process is on, and I hope that it will be completed on Sunday. From there, one has to make use of the remaining time to reach out to people and to give your message.”
Angula also said that Geingob should not have been allowed to chair the Politburo meeting because he was an interested party.
“For someone who has interest in the position of presidency, Geingob was not supposed to chair the Politburo meeting; someone neutral [should have done so].”
On whether he will support Armas Amukwiyu for the position of secretary general of the ruling party, Angula said, “Yes I will. But only because of his own will, not because he was picked by a crowd of other people or somebody. He must stand up and say I am exercising my democratic right and therefore I am standing.”