With a combined experience of close to 60 years in the top echelons of national politics, four long-serving politicians Albert Kawana, Doreen Sioka, Calle Schlettwein and National Assembly speaker Peter Katjavivi will be stepping down from active politics in two years’ time.
On Monday, the four told the ruling party’s politburo they would not be eligible for any positions, as they will be “retiring”.
Kawana is 66, while Sioka is 61. Her land reform counterpart, Schlettwein, is 68, while Katjavivi is 81.
Kawana joined Cabinet in 2000 and has held the positions of justice minister, attorney general and home affairs, immigration, safety and security. President Hage Geingob has deployed several young people in parliament as well as in the Presidency; however, during the Swapo policy conference in July this year, party members between the age of 18 and 35 demanded a seat at the decision-making table through elections or appointment.
Their proposals will form part of a final policy dossier that will make its way to that party’s elective congress later this year.
One of the elders who provoked the ire of the nation’s youth in recent years, Sioka, also indicated she has come to the end of the line in national politics.
In October 2020, protestors called on Sioka to resign, saying the ministry has failed to come up with an action plan against sexual and gender-based violence, and that she is not a champion of women and children’s rights. Sioka joined Cabinet in 2005 and holds the position of minister of social welfare, gender equality and poverty eradication, while Schlettwein became a minister in 2012, serving as finance, and
now agriculture, water and land reform minister.
Katjavivi, who is currently the National Assembly’s speaker, was in Cabinet from 2008 to 2010 as the National Planning Commission’s director general.
He also held a number of important positions, including vice chancellor of the University of Namibia from 1992 to 2003, ambassador to the European Union from 2003 to 2006 and ambassador to Germany from 2006 to 2008.
Kawana said he will remain a Swapo member and will be available to provide advice as needed.
“I wouldn’t really call it retirement, but yes. I took the decision so that I make room for the young people. What I am left with now is to give advice from the outside if needed,” Kawana said.
Sioka yesterday said the media hated her anyway and would be happy if she were to leave. “Why are you calling me today? You, the media, have been ignoring me
all these years. You have not covered me and all of a sudden when you hear that I am leaving you are calling me – sorry I won’t speak to you,” she said, before ending the call.
Schlettwein also confirmed he will retire from active politics in two years.
On his part, Katjavivi said he had written to the office of the Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa, confirming his intention not to contest for any position at the upcoming seventh national congress of the ruling party.
“There is always time for everything. I have contributed in my own modest way towards the building of the formidable Swapo party we know of today – one which every peace-loving Namibian can be proud of,” Katjavivi said yesterday through the director in the office of the speaker, Simon Uirab.
He said the new leadership who will take over should continue to humble themselves as servants of the people while at the same time continuing to strengthen the peace and stability of the country.
“My message to the Swapo party membership and the Namibian people at large is that the freedom and independence we enjoy today never came on a silver platter and must be, therefore, be safeguarded at all times,” he said.
“We must continue to forge ahead with the strategic developmental objectives outlined in Swapo party policies and its manifestos, and thereby ensure that the empowerment and development of Namibia remains at the top of the agenda.” - email@example.com