Edward Mumbuu and Albertina Nakale
Affirmative Repositioning movement leader Job Amupanda does not only dream of becoming Namibia’s fourth democratically-elected president, he has in fact already started preparing his acceptance speech.
But becoming the main occupant of 1 Engelberg Street, Auasblick appears to be an uphill task. If coalition attempts between opposition parties in the Windhoek municipal council serve as a dress rehearsal, the electorate can expect an even more crowded presidential race as attempts to unite the opposition under one candidate against Swapo’s Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah looks like it will not materialise.
Amupanda is not the only hopeful in the race, made more interesting by the performance of Panduleni Itula in the last presidential race. Other aspirants who might make it in the race are McHenry Venaani of the Popular Democratic Movement, Bernadus Swartbooi of the Landless People’s Movement, Utjiua Muinjangue of the National Unity Democratic Organisation and a few other opposition party presidents. There might be other left field candidates trying to make a good fist of it.
Under the banner of “A promise called home”, Ally Angula announced her plans to run for the 2024 presidential elections. She promised to fight for the economic future of Namibia.
In her seven-minute YouTube video, she talks about her journey as a child who grew up in a refugee camp in Angola during the liberation struggle.
Angula (44), is a farmer and entrepreneur, who also served as former deputy executive director in the finance ministry.
“I am running for president of the government of Namibia. I am looking for your support, as I roll up my sleeves to work. The time is now,” she revealed.
Contacted for comment on Tuesday, Angula refused to shed more light on her political ambitions, saying the perfect time will come when she calls a press conference to address all media queries. “For now, that is the message I want people to listen to and digest.”
Having grown up with freedom fighters and foster parents in Angola, she said long before she could call Namibia a country, a nation, a people, it was a promise called home.
“It was this promise, so much was paid for in blood, trauma, denial and sacrifice, and so much more than words can describe. The scars of the struggle are proof of that time when all we had was a promise to have a reward of a place to call home. Indeed, for us who came back, we got to see we were not lied to. We were no longer indebted to a history of injustice and inequality. We paid the price, so the ones to come will not ever need to. They will claim their safe place in this place called Namibia,” she reasoned.
Therefore, she said the present will be dishonouring the past if the future cannot count on the returns “our forefathers” invested.
Without outlining her detailed political ambitions, Angula touched on the high unemployment rate, saying more than half of the population faces poverty.
She promised to advocate for a poverty-free Namibia. Equally, she believes in a justice system that gives second chances to Namibians, while the rule of law applies to all without fear or favour.
Angula also dreams of a Namibia that invests in her future of vibrant young people. Other areas she believes need to be fixed are education, infrastructure, social services and wealth distribution, amongst others.
“These are the promises I believe in, with so many like me who were born in exile. Under one room, one banner, boldly named Namibia; these are promises I want to pass on to our children. But not a conditional possibility but a certain outcome, which will only get better within the future,” she added.
Itula, the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) candidate, has already been running his campaign for a year.
On Independence Day last year, the party faithful gathered at the Goreangab soccer field in Windhoek and at an open space opposite the ABC Centre in Ondangwa to officially launch its campaign for the 2024 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
At the time, Itula said the time is over when a party only launches political campaigns on the eve of elections.
“We will now start to visit each and every town in the country to hear from the people before they can come up with an election manifesto,” he added.
“We are here to send a message to the whole of Namibia that the days when politicians and political parties come to you on election day are gone. We now have a political party in IPC that has the responsibility to come to you well in advance so that we can get from you what you want us to do for you when we advance to the government in 2024.”
Itula ran as an independent presidential candidate for the country’s presidency in the 2019 general election, finishing second to Geingob.
Amupanda’s candidature has been received with mixed feelings.
For some, it is audacious for the 35-year-old to run for the biggest office in the land.
For instance, social commentator Lee Garises “can’t wait to wake Amupanda up in 2025” from his dream, casting doubt if it will ever come to pass.
For others, it is an achievement on its own to dare to dream of becoming president. What matters for the activist, however, is that the conversation has started.
“There is a debate now whether Job is going to be a good president or a bad president. Lee and many others are participating in that discussion. Let’s celebrate the fact that they are participating. There is a national conversation about me taking over the country, whether you agree or don’t agree,” Amupanda stated.
According to him, he has been an underdog all his life.
“People have always doubted me. I am not too concerned about the views. Let’s say it’s a dream. My life has always been like that. The point of the matter is that the president, the head of intelligence and everyone will have to make a decision, regardless of what they think. The first person they will see on the ballot is me. They will have to greet and negotiate with me on the ballot,” he stated.
Amupanda described his presidential ambitions to young Namibians protesting why ordinary citizens are sent into retirement at 60, while the political elite remain in office deep into their twilight.
“We are having a lot of Harry Maguires as president, vice president, as members of parliament, and we want to win the league. You cannot win the league with a lot of Harry Maguires. What can you expect from Harry Maguire, except for an own goal?” he said proverbially, likening the current crop of political leaders to the shambolic Manchester United defender.
He added that candidature goes beyond Amupanda, the individual.
“In 2014, there were about 1.8 million eligible voters. We think that number has increased. We are not targeting those people who are already on the voters’ roll. We are hoping to get 500 000 new registered voters. That’s why we are communicating to them a year in advance because we’re interested in making sure that those so-called young people who are not participating actually come and register,” he continued.
To achieve this, they will ensure that the Electoral Commission of Namibia implements continuous voter registration, amongst others.
Amupanda’s campaign strategy has raised many eyebrows, particularly the funding of several billboards bearing his face in several towns, including Windhoek, Walvis Bay and Ondangwa.
“How is he financing those billboards? He must tell us. Even us as an established political party cannot afford to put up those billboards for that long. And for Amupanda to keep his face on for over a month shows that someone is funding him,” a politician reacted recently.
Speculation is that some tycoons, tenderpreneurs and business executives in the oil and gas sectors are bankrolling the activist.
“I generally don’t like weaknesses. I don’t like weak people. I don’t like weak systems. It is a weakness for people to say they are well-established and can’t afford billboards… Even if I am getting money from who, who, it means it’s strength and ability to mobilise resources. We don’t lose sleep over those things. We are proud of the fact that we are able to do things that shock them,” he retorted.
He then moved to demystify assertions that he is poor, suggesting that he is able to finance certain projects himself or through crowdfunding with others who believe in the cause.
“I am not poor. I am employed. I have international activities that I do. I used to be a country expert for some surveys. Of course, I am dealing with young people who are poor,” he charged.
In an interview, which will air this week on New Era’s flagship talk show ‘On the Spot’, Amupanda enthusiastically says the removal of the infamous veterinary cordon fence (VCF), also known as the ‘red line’, will be etched in his maiden speech.
He is currently in court, trying to compel the government to remove the red line.
“If we lose this case, but we are confident we won’t lose, it will be removed on the 22nd of March 2025. In fact, in my acceptance speech, one of the lines there is the red line. I will be speaking as president. In my inauguration, I will already be announcing that I am going to appoint a minister, and one of his first key tasks is to remove the red line,” Amupanda asserted.
Notoriously known as the ‘red line’, the VCF is a border between the north and south, which is used as an animal disease control mechanism.
Its critics, including Amupanda, see it as draconian, divisive, repugnant, and that it serves colonial interests.
He furthermore gave an in-depth overview of the Namibia he would want to preside over, as president.
“We have tried everything in this country. We even tried local authority. We tried activism. We tried protest action. Of course, we have been getting results. But we actually discovered that if we are not careful, we are going to reach 50, just protesting. We are going to reach 70, just protesting. So ultimately, you reach a point where you understand that the only way to do this is to go there [presidency].
“When we don’t sleep at night wanting to transform society, we realised that you can transform society as president because by mere word, by mere phone call, you solve most of the problems that we have,” Amupanda explained what informed his decision to run for presidency.
The academic also took time to share his blueprint on how oil and green hydrogen could be used to maximise returns for Namibians.
“My approach to oil, gas and all these resources is that I will approach them from a national security and national interest perspective. You put that colour and flavour to say things of oil are about national interest and national security,” he said.
The academic went on to say that as head of state, he will renegotiate any agreement that has placed Namibia in a compromised position.
Caption: Ambition… Presidential aspirant and AR leader Job Amupanda, and businesswoman Ally Angula.
Photo: Emmency Nuukala and contributed