Edward Mumbuu Jnr
It is the end of an era in Okakarara as one of the country’s longest-serving councillors, Vetaruhe Kandorozu, is leaving office after a 15-year tenure.
His tenure has seen the transformation of a poorly developed town to one that offers various services for the public.
Born and raised at Okonja in the Omaheke region, some 200 kilometres south-east of Okakarara on the morning of 9 November 1974, he needs no introduction to Namibian politics.
‘VK’, as Kandorozu is affectionately known in political circles, joined mainstream politics around 2004 when the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) under the tutelage of the late Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Kuaima Riruako, dismembered itself from the then-Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), now Popular Democratic Movement (PDM).
Kandorozu established himself as a force to be reckoned with when it came to public policy and administration. But like a good dancer, Kandorozu knew when to leave the stage.
“From here, I will go back to the villages, taking care of my family, community elders and encourage the young to take school and farming seriously. I will look after my livestock I have neglected for the past 15 years and I want to be a producer, not a consumer,” he said.
Kandorozu’s reign has drawn mixed reactions over the years, with some accusing him of overstaying and ignoring party policies to serve his own interests. “Overstaying is more to someone who forced himself [down people’s throats],” he rebuffs.
He now wants to hand over the constituency leadership “to a vibrant young man or woman or anyone who is the people’s choice”. During his tenure at Okakarara, key achievements were recorded. From the onset of his 15-year reign, he prioritised strengthening operations of the constituency development and settlement development committees to bring development closer to the community.
He also oversaw the opening of three banking institutions; Standard Bank, First National Bank and Bank Windhoek.
Furthermore, the proclamation of Okondjatu, Okatjoruu and Coblenz settlements as growth points are some highlights of Kandorozu’s success story.
When Kandorozu took charge of the constituency, there were about five localities that were electrified through government’s rural electrification programme.
Forty-one more localities have since been electrified with the budget of the mines and energy ministry, Cenored and NamPower.
“There is no constituency in Namibia that has electrified over 40 villages for the past 30 years in Namibia,” Kandorozu boasted.
Several major projects are also underway.
Chief among them is the construction of a hospitality college to the tune of N$60 million, a health centre at Okondjatu, while the Coblenz and Okatjoruu clinics are being upgraded.
During his reign, over 100 houses were constructed through the National Housing Enterprise, while 1 000 others were built through the Build Together and Shack Dwellers Federation in the constituency.
Apart from the array of success stories, Kandorozu had shortcomings of his own.
“The Grade 10 and 12 performance under my leadership was pathetic as we sent more kids to the streets than to tertiary education. We failed to have a department of agriculture extension services, rural water supply and veterinary services at Coblenz settlement,” he said.
A perception exists that regional councillors from opposition parties struggle to execute their development agenda as the central government stifles their budgets for political expediency.
Kandorozu disputed this long-held assertion, saying politicians use it as a scapegoat to cover up their failure. “We have achieved far better results than some of the constituencies under the leadership of Swapo for the past 30 years,” he said.
For Kandorozu, a clear line always exists between public office and political affiliation, with the latter held supreme. The creation and positioning of the Okakarara Annual Trade Fair as one of Namibia’s biggest events forms part of Kandorozu’s impressive resume.
“Today we have a state of the art trade fair centre that was constructed for N$15 million,” he said.
Kandorozu thanked former trade ministers Immanuel Ngatjizeko, Hage Geingob and Tjekero Tweya for their notable contributions towards Okakarara’ s growth agenda.
To understand Kandorozu’s role in Okakarara’ s development trajectory and influence in the political arena in general, Nampa interviewed several individuals who know him well.
Former Otjozondjupa governor, Otto Ipinge recalls: “It never occurred to us that we belonged to different political parties as we always strived to work in the best interest of our people.”
He added: “Rural electrification, construction of roads and renovation of schools are some key milestones we reached together. It is now up to whoever is going to take over from him to take the constituency to even greater heights.”
McHenry Venaani, leader of the official opposition party, PDM, also commented on Kandorozu’s political journey. “He brought development to the Okakarara Constituency. I wish him all the best in his future endeavours. It is very unfortunate that Nudo had to part ways with him in such a fashion because he is the only trump card they have,” said Venaani.
A resident of the constituency, Tjarirehua Mupia echoed similar sentiments to those of Ipinge and Venaani.
“He is a humble servant of the people. He follows government policies and laws to the letter and spirit. He is cool under pressure. Even when he is being insulted, he never insults back,” Mupia said.
However, as fate would have it, there is no perfect political journey - this is true for Kandorozu as it is for many politicians. Kandorozu is a paradox. To some, he is the poster boy who beat all the odds to establish himself as a political force.
To others, he is a self-centered and egoistic individual. Things began crumbling for the 46-year-old in 2019 when he contested the Nudo presidency and lost to Esther Muinjangue.
The fiercely contested intra-party election saw Muinjangue collect 240 votes of the possible 495. Kandorozu had 227 votes. On face value, the dust has refused to settle since then, with the two not seeing eye-to-eye.
Their ridge widened ahead of the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections after Kandorozu publicly supported independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula ahead of Nudo’s Muinjangue.
Kandorozu was of the opinion that the common objective of all opposition parties was to unseat Swapo and its presidential candidate, Hage Geingob.
For him, Itula stood a better chance to secure the highest office in the country.
Subsequently, Nudo’s leadership barred Kandorozu from participating in party activities, including participating in this year’s regional and local authority elections.
Kandorozu was last month booted from the party along with Ambrosius Mundjindjiri and Kapuu Ngairo.
While announcing the decision, Muinjangue said Nudo would not be held hostage by Kandorozu’s success at Okakarara.
“Kandorozu has done extremely well at Okakarara, nobody is questioning his work. But we cannot allow the party to be destroyed from within,” she told Nampa. - Nampa