Swapo Party Women’s Council secretary Fransina Kahungu has reiterated that party vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is their sole and authentic candidate ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
It is her fervent position that Swapo already has a presidential candidate, and “her name is comrade Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.”
As a member of the Swapo central committee (CC) – Swapo’s highest decision-making body between congresses – she has never been invited to a meeting where a discussion on an extraordinary congress was held.
Kahungu said in the absence of a formal submission to the CC, the calls for an extraordinary congress remain “corridor” talks.
“The constitution of the Swapo Party is very clear. If there is a need for an extraordinary congress, it should be either called by the central committee, or by the majority of the regional executive committees. As we speak now, there is no such thing on the table of the Swapo Party central committee,” she stated in an interview last week.
The teacher-turned-politician emphasised that Swapo has tools to manage its leadership transitions.
“The constitution talks about congress to elect the president. But you can page through the whole constitution, nowhere does it speak about the congress electing a presidential candidate for the Natoinal Assembly and presidential elections. There is no such thing,” Kahungu said.
She was not done.
“Under the rules and procedures, it is stated that in a case where the president is barred from standing by the constitution of the country as president again, then the vice president automatically becomes the one to be given as a presidential candidate.
It continues to say, in the case where the vice president is unable to stand due to other reasons, it goes to the secretary general, until up to the deputy secretary general. It ends there,” the Windhoek municipal councillor said.
The SPWC secretary continued: “If there is no one among the three, then you go and look for a presidential candidate. As we speak, they elected by acclamation the president, through election the vice president, secretary general and deputy secretary general. What does that say? Our presidential candidate is the vice president, who is none other than comrade Netumbo Nandi-Ndiatwah.”
Last week, Swapo politburo member and lawyer Sisa Namandje dismissed calls for an extraordinary congress, branding them “unnecessary” and “time wasting”.
The only time Swapo held an extraordinary congress was in 2004 when the party was looking for an heir to Founding President Sam Nujoma’s throne.
At that watershed extraordinary congress, Nujoma backed former President Hifikepunye Pohamba - then Swapo vice president - as his preferred candidate.
Nujoma’s blessing, however, did not deter party veterans such as the late Hidipo Hamutenya and Nahas Angula from challenging Pohamba.
A re-run was required between Hamutenya and Pohamba to determine the eventual victor.
Pohamba eventually won the battle for the party vice presidency, while he was also confirmed as the Swapo candidate for the general elections in 2004.
That congress, however, left the ruling party with bruises.
It is a reality Kahungu is familiar with.
As such, she urged party loyalists and deployees to work hard to ensure victory.
“Comrades, let us make sure that an extensive campaign is undertaken so that the Swapo Party presidential candidate, who is comrade Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, and the Swapo Party itself in the National Assembly election become victorious,” she said. “By an extensive campaign, I am referring to putting more effort in service delivery to the inhabitants of Namibia.”
“Let us continue fostering and maintaining unity of this organisation [Swapo],” she added.
Her comments come at a time when Swapo party stalwart Jerry ‘Maudjuu’ Ekandjo has already written to party President Hage Geingob, maintaining that last year’s congress did not elect a presidential candidate, throwing the nomination of Nandi-Ndaitwah, or NNN as she is popularly known, into doubt.
Ekandjo was not reachable for comment yesterday.
New Era sought the bird’s eye view of political analysts on the matter.
Local pundit and lawyer Natjirikasorua Tjirera does not see Ekandjo’s push for an extraordinary congress sailing through.
“Ekandjo’s call for an extraordinary congress is both politically and legally wrong. It’s my considered opinion that the call has no basis in both logic and the law, but we are unfortunately getting used to Swapo leaders doing things that don’t make a lot of sense,” the baffled lawyer said.
From where Tjirera sits, who Swapo’s presidential candidate will be at next year’s polls is not in question.
“Since the 2004 extraordinary congress, Swapo resolved that the party’s vice president shall be its presidential candidate. Where honourable Ekandjo gets this fallacy that they should have another congress to elect a presidential candidate, beats the mind of any right-thinking human being.
I also believe that honourable Ekandjo should decide what he wants, if he expects the members of his party and the greater Namibian people to take him seriously. Last year, he threatened legal action because he was dribbled out of the race for vice president. Nothing came of that threat,” Tjirera said.
He continued that in any event, even if a Swapo congress is to be convened for the sole purpose of electing a Swapo presidential candidate, it is highly unlikely to succeed.
“With respect, honourable Ekandjo should not allow his newly-found fame based on his anti-gay stance to fool him into believing that he is all of a sudden so powerful that he will win an internal Swapo election. That’s a dream that will not happen.
He is a Swapo veteran, and he knows all too well the internal intricacies of Swapo operations. Expecting a rank outsider like himself to beat the incumbent vice president backed by the sitting secretary general is a pipe dream. I think he should put his ambition to rest, and seek unity for the party he has committed his whole life to,” the analyst continued.
His sentiments were echoed by Graham Hopwood, the executive director of the Institute for Public Policy Research.
“NNN was clearly elected at last November’s congress as the party’s vice-president, and it was widely accepted that this makes her the next presidential candidate. There doesn’t seem to be any case for an extraordinary congress. I don’t think Ekandjo’s efforts have any prospect of success,” the former journalist said.
According to Hopwood, holding the extraordinary will do more harm than good for the ruling party. “It would certainly open up rifts within the party, and affect the party’s credibility with voters if there was to be a congress to ‘reselect’ the candidate.”
Meanwhile, fellow analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah holds a divergent view.
For him, it is Swapo’s own making that Ekandjo is now hellbent in his extraordinary congress resolve.
“The Swapo Party is being haunted by its own procedures and processes. Jerry Ekandjo has a claim to make. Procedures and rules in terms of the Swapo Party constitution were not adhered to. As things stand, I don’t see the feasibility of an extraordinary congress. But the party needs some deep reflection,” Kamwanyah said.
Swapo, he hastened to say, must wake up and smell the coffee.
“It’s no longer Swapo forever. The political landscape is shifting. Swapo will not win an absolute majority anymore. The party has squandered its opportunities. Individuals within the party looted this country, making it a looting party,” he stressed.