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Home / Swapo officials to meet Ekandjo... as war of words erupts over campaign trail

Swapo officials to meet Ekandjo... as war of words erupts over campaign trail

2022-10-24  Edward Mumbuu

Swapo officials to meet Ekandjo... as war of words erupts over campaign trail

A technical committee has been appointed to meet liberation struggle icon and parliamentarian Jerry Ekandjo over the Swapo central committee’s (CC) decision not to include him in the race for vice president at next month’s intraparty elective congress. 

The CC – Swapo’s highest decision-making body between congresses – ruled against Ekandjo’s inclusion at a special meeting on Friday. 

It is the second time the body has refused to endorse Ekandjo’s candidature. 

Swapo vice president (VP) Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah yesterday confirmed the ad hoc committee, but refused to say much further. 

“The central committee has decided. I am in the regions working. There are those mandated to meet comrade Jerry,” was all Nandi-Ndaitwah was willing to say. 

She directed further questions to Swapo’s chief spokesperson Hilma Nikanor, whose mobile phone went unanswered. 

Several party veterans have accused Swapo president Hage Geingob of sabotaging Ekandjo, an allegation he president vehemently denied.

Nandi-Ndaitwah is fighting to retain her position against Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and environment minister Pohamba Shifeta. 

Friday’s meeting was necessitated by Ekandjo’s move to halt a legal challenge against the party; instead opting to exhaust internal processes to mount his case.  

In September, ‘Maudjuu’, as Ekandjo is affectionately known in Swapo, decided to escalate his attempt to compel the party to recognise his VP candidature to the CC by threatening to drag the ruling party to court. 

This came after he failed to make the cut at a CC meeting that elected candidates for the congress. 

It is the stalwart’s avid view that Cabinet ministers Tom Alweendo and Frans Kapofi did not qualify to be nominated, having not served in the party’s CC even for a “single day”.

However, Kapofi later pulled out of the VP race, despite a CC endorsement, while Alweendo failed to garner enough votes. 

Alweendo came third in the race behind Shifeta and Kapofi. 

Ekandjo is adamant that he should automatically qualify for the race. 

Efforts to get comment from the erstwhile youth minister yesterday were futile. 

His lawyer, Richard Metcalfe, yesterday said he had not received any instruction from his client on the way forward. 

It remains to be seen if Ekandjo will proceed with the legal route, or a deal would be struck to put his second bid for party vice presidency into permanent retirement. 

Legitimate grounds

Reacting to the fiasco, political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah said Ekandjo has legitimate grounds to fight for his inclusion in the VP race.

He premised his analysis on Alweendo and Kapofi’s nominations, saying Swapo bent its own rules and procedures when the two were nominated. 

Kamwanyah pointed to the so-called ‘Helmut amendments’ – alterations which require those aiming for the top four positions to have “persistently and consistently” been members of the CC for 10 years and in the party for 20 consecutive years. 

Swapo stalwart Helmut Angula is said to be the amendments’ godfather. 

“He has a compelling case that if he takes the party to court, it could throw the entire congress in jeopardy…some people who were there were not supposed to be there,” reiterated Kamwanyah. 

He also found it strange how the CC is determined to block Ekandjo, saying: “They should have just let him join the race and let congress delegates decide”. 

Like Kamwanyah, Angula does not fathom Ekandjo’s omission. 

“It has been a practice that if a person on the list dies or walks out, the next person in line replaces him.  I don’t know what type of administration and provision they are using to keep Jerry out,” Angula said upon enquiry yesterday. 

Iron Lady 

New Era also sought the views of former Swapo secretary general (SG) Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana on the Ekandjo debacle from an administrative perspective. 

Dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’, Iivula-Ithana was Swapo’s top administrator between 2007 and 2017, a person who saw party icons quit the party en masse to form the Rally for Democracy and Progress. 

“For one to be a nominee, you have to be a delegate to congress. I don’t know if comrade Jerry is a delegate or not. For you to be a delegate, you must be part of a structure [district, branch or section]. 

“Since myself and comrade Jerry fell out of the CC, I don’t know whether he is part of a structure or not. Maybe he is. Since I am not part of the decision-makers, I cannot say what was used when he was nominated,” the former Cabinet minister stated. 

On the ‘Helmut amendments’, she said they cannot pass the legal test. 

According to her, no Swapo member can serve “10 persistent and consistent years in the central committee”.

“At each congress, the leadership is dissolved, and all positions become vacant. When you are elected to the CC, the mandate is renewed. When you are re-elected to the CC, you start a new term, which is not consistent or persistent, because it is not consecutive,” she proferred. 

CC meeting brawl

Opening the meeting, Swapo President Hage Geingob assured members that there would be no fights. 

“What do you anticipate we are going to do? Fight? Is there war? Is there disunity [in Swapo]? That’s your problem; Swapo is united,” he observed. 

While heaping praise on how the nine competing candidates have conducted their campaigns so far, he defended the party’s decision to hold the crusades behind closed doors and limited to congress delegates. 

Geingob likened the process to a job interview. 

“Delegates are going to hire you within Swapo to then put you to the nation, whereby you can debate with others and so on, publicly. Here it’s Swapo’s business,” he noted. 

However, soon after journalists were asked to leave the conference room, a verbal brawl ensued between SG Sophia Shaningwa and information minister Peya Mushelenga, CC sources confirmed. 

Mushelenga publicly complained about the non-existence of congress preparatory committees, pinning the blame squarely on Shaningwa. 

“The secretary general told Peya Mushelenga not to sleep while in meetings because what he is talking about is a non-issue. The committees are already in place. The SG produced evidence,” said another CC source. 

Nandi-Ndaitwah allegedly also stepped in, saying some gripes were disingenuous after //Kharas coordinator Mathew Mumbala complained about how some candidates were bussing non-delegates from one region to another as they campaigned. 

“We all have supporters who are following us, and we’re all transporting our supporters, be it delegates and non-delegates, to the engagements…we also go to the extent of renting crowds from cuca shops and shebeens. We must not come here and come play angels because we’re all doing it,” the Swapo VP ostensibly said. 




2022-10-24  Edward Mumbuu

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