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Swapo moots leadership debates 

2022-09-14  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Swapo moots leadership debates 

The 10 Swapo candidates aspiring to become the party’s next leaders will now have to square off in leadership debates in front of party delegates, the first of its kind, party president Hage Geingob revealed yesterday.

Geingob made this revelation when he met the British High Commissioner to Namibia, Charles Moore, at State House yesterday.  

The move is similar to that practised recently by the United Kingdom’s (UK) Conservative Party during the recent leadership election campaign that saw Liz Truss become that country’s next prime minister, replacing Boris Johnson, who tendered his resignation earlier this year.

“We proposed that party candidates must go for a job interview in front of party delegates where they will be asked questions by delegates and we agreed to that,” Geingob told the British diplomat yesterday.

Moore wanted to know whether Geingob was happy with the internal elections as president of Swapo. He also asked Geingob about his preferred candidate and why he (Geingob) wasn’t backing a candidate given that Hifikepunye Pohamba, his predecessor, had done so. 

While the details of the debates and whether they will be accessible to the public are not known yet, analysts have welcomed the idea, saying it is a step in the right direction and long overdue as it promotes accountability and transparency.

“I think it’s a positive development but it would be great if it could be televised so that the general public can also get a sense of what the candidates stand for,” said political commentator Graham Hopwood.

 “This is a brilliant idea as we do not know the ideological and policy positions of the respective candidates, especially those with ambitions to become State president. 

This platform will allow them to articulate their vision to the Namibian populace and the delegates who will determine their political fate,” political analyst Rui Tyitende said. 

However, he said one cannot rule out the possibility that bribes will be paid as had allegedly happened during the 2017 congress. 

“If this will be the case, then the process and candidates will be tainted and will lack legitimacy. Nonetheless, I believe this is a step in the right direction and will accord the delegates to decide who is best suited to lead them,” he added.

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said this new development is long overdue because it provides the candidates with the opportunity to present their ideas and proposals on how they run the party, and how they will lead the party to victory in the 2024 national elections.  

“Such information is important in guiding the delegates in order for them to make informed choices on who is suitable to take the mantle,” he said.

The country’s opposition parties have over the years called for a political debate on live television between presidential candidates to enable voters to evaluate the contenders in an open and transparent format. Swapo has always shunned these debates.

Current Swapo vice president Netumbo Ndaitwah is running for the party’s vice presidency. She will be up against Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, defence minister Frans Kapofi, and environment minister Pohamba Shifeta.

Others include Armas Amukwiyu, the regional coordinator for Swapo Oshikoto, who will compete against Sophia Shaningwa, the party’s current secretary general. David Hamutenya, Evelyn Nawases-Tayele, Lucia Witbooi, and Uahekua Herunga will compete for the position of deputy secretary general. 

Swapo is expected to host its elective congress in November. 

2022-09-14  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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