No matter the outcome of the Sixth SWAPO Party Elective Congress currently underway in the capital Windhoek, the party’s acting president Hage Geingob, will emerge the biggest loser, having been subjected to a bruising fight for the ruling party’s top position.
Though he wanted to run uncontested, Geingob has had to fight his way towards landing the coveted party presidency, unlike his predecessors, who had the unified support of members to ascend to the party’s top leadership position.
According to party members, Geingob’s handling of party affairs together with Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba, in his drive to influence the outcome of the party congress in his favour, has created divisions within the ruling party amid allegations of blatant constitutional violations.
Insiders say that should Geingob win, he may inherit a divided SWAPO, a position which could threaten the future cohesiveness of the party.
Party insiders further said that Geingob’s failure to play a unifying role, has also been attributed to his failed push for his sole candidature for the party presidency, with Nahas Angula and Jerry Ekandjo now also in the running for the liberation movement’s top position.
According to those in the know, If Geingob wins, he will be forced to work with party members, which he has declared not to be his preferred candidates. This is likely to prove a challenge.
His deep angst about not landing the party’s top job was also evident during his address at the Team Harambee rally in Windhoek, when he confronted SWAPO delegates that had flocked to his event.
“Rumor is that most people are coming just to show face, but when it comes to voting, which is a secret ballot, you will vote for the other camp,” he said to the crowd.
In typical Geingob fashion, he also lashed out at his critics during his congress address on Thursday.
“Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability. Now – more than ever – in the midst of these challenging times, the mighty SWAPO Party must show the doubters, the naysayers and the doom mongers that SWAPO remains strong, SWAPO remains united and SWAPO remains stable.”
His efforts to list his administration’s achievements, were met with a few jeers from some delegates.
The fight for delegates, ahead of voting for the party’s top four positions on Sunday, has become a contentious issue, with some raising concerns about tension between delegates from the different regions.
Michael Aihuki, a delegate from the Khomas region, said that he had noticed tension between a number of SWAPO members who are showing each other “attitudes.”
“Some delegates have tension against each other. For some, it looks as if they were already told or intimidated not to talk to people from rural areas.
“Another problem I have noticed is that some of our delegates from rural areas do not seem so free to be around here and these are the people who don’t know their rights in the constitution as delegates. They cannot understand or speak English properly, so they are just told to vote for certain candidates, this makes them vulnerable,”Aihuki said.
David Igonda, another delegate representing Khomas, said the mood at the congress was good although he sensed some tension amongst delegates.
“This is my first time as a delegate to the congress, but the way I see it is that all is well except the tension that I see around, but one can understand because there are two camps contesting one another. I am ready to cast my votes on my preferred candidates,”Igonda said.
It has also emerged that, in an effort to lure delegates to vote for Team Harambe, Sackeus Shangala, James Katikulipi and Veikko Nekundi, were allegedly offering free alcohol to delegates coming from regions that have not endorsed Geingob.
This comes as various regions in the run-up to the congress were ‘forced’ to endorse Geingob’s candidature for the party presidency.
Unconfirmed rumours of delegates ‘being kept’ at regional governors’ houses for the past seven weeks have also emerged, as a measure to influence their votes and minimize access to them by other candidates.