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Swapo needs young leaders - Nawatiseb

2022-04-28  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

Swapo needs young leaders - Nawatiseb

Former information deputy minister Engel Nawatiseb has urged the upcoming Swapo congress, slated for November, to choose a “dynamic young leader” to take the ruling party to great heights.

In fact, Nawatiseb (52) threw in names, including that of himself, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila (54), ICT minister Peya Mushelenga (46) and environment minister Pohamba Shifeta (54), amongst others, as tried and tested Swapo cadres ready to lead the

“Our president wants to advocate for the current crop of elders. When are they going to groom young people? The whole world is electing young presidents,” Nawatiseb, who is  Swapo treasurer for Oshikoto, told New Era yesterday. 

“Look at France! Macron, who is 44, was re-elected as president. Look at my good friend in Ethiopia, prime minister Abiy Ahmed (45), who has been leading that country for the past five years. Who are we not to have that juice of young leaders?”

He said the party was blessed with capable leaders, including himself. 

“I can also be a potential candidate; why not? But this will be determined by my popularity in the party. When given the chance, I am ready. I am underutilised, but you have young people within the party like Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Mushelenga and Shifeta, who have served the ruling party at the level of the politburo and central committee. Why not take them? We cannot turn a blind eye on them,” he continued.

He said the elders have a way of clinging to power. 

However, he suggested that if the elders are going to succeed President Hage Geingob in the November congress, Swapo should consider young people to lead the party at the next congress. 

“Swapo needs a young leader. Namibia needs a young leader. Other countries are doing, so why not us?” Nawatiseb, who also served as deputy public enterprises minister, asked.  

His views were echoed by political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah, who said the upcoming congress would be the opportune time for Swapo to part ways with the tradition of older leaders. 

“The current voter mood in the country does not support an exile and elder-dominated leadership. Therefore, a vibrant and dynamic leader is needed to respond to the current challenges facing the party, as well as a leader who will help the party adjust to the current fast-paced changes,” he reasoned. 

However, political commentator Gerson Sindano said the issue of the “right candidate” to lead Swapo will only be determined by the party’s congress in November this year. 

“Nawatiseb has the liberty to contest for any position in the party - whether he will get the support, that is a discussion for another day. He should probably wait for the process to play out naturally than position himself as a possible candidate. The other names he has suggested are all potential contenders,” he added. 

Another commentator, Graham Hopwood, said there seems to be a scarcity of credible candidates among younger Swapo politicians.

“I think the ruling party is still likely to go the ‘tried and trusted’ route and find an older, well-known politician who will shore up the votes among their support base of older, rural-based voters,” he stated, adding that younger candidates, those under 50, may have a bigger chance of becoming secretary general or deputy secretary general at the upcoming congress.

Swapo will in November hold its intra-party elections to deploy cadres into various positions, including the positions of president, vice president, secretary general and deputy secretary general. 

The party will also elect individuals to its 87-member central committee, as well as the political bureau. 

When asked what he thinks of the possible outcome of the November congress, Nawatiseb said Swapo has traditionally adopted a certain norm, and he will not be surprised if the party keeps that norm at the upcoming congress.

“If the incumbent [vice president] Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah enters the fray of congress and retains her position, then I see her succeeding President Geingob. But in politics, there are always surprises. There are always forces behind the scene that are also ambitious,” he noted.  

However, he said it is advisable to keep President Geingob in his current position and to keep Nandi-Ndaitwah to continue, as has been the tradition.

Traditionally, the party has been fielding its vice president as its candidate for the national presidency. 

President Geingob is currently serving his second and final term as head of state. 



2022-04-28  Kuzeeko Tjitemisa

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