The power dynamics playing out in the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) enter a new phase from next week, as the two top leaders of the Council go head to head for the top seat – a position which will guarantee the winner a place in the party’s central committee in the 2017 watershed congress.
Party insiders say the two camps have already drawn battle lines with both allegedly convening crucial underground meetings ahead of the Swapo Party Women’s Congress scheduled to take place in Keetmanshoop from Wednesday to Saturday.
Incumbent SPWC secretary Petrina Haingura will contest her deputy Eunice Ipinge and Sylvia Kandanga for the top seat.
Ipinge and Haingura are old competitors, having competed for the women’s top seat 10 years ago, at a women’s congress in Rundu. Ipinge was defeated.
As for the deputy secretary position, City of Windhoek councillor Fransina Kahungu and National Assembly backbencher Bernadette Jagger are some of the names being thrown around.
The congress is key because it serves as a prelude for the Swapo Party 2017 congress, which might see a woman taking over the vice presidency position of the party, seeing that acting party president Hage Geingob is fully poised to substantively take over the party presidency.
Lobbying is also expected to be intense among women who wish to stand for the position in the mother body next year.
Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and her deputy Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah are among the top contenders for the party’s VP position next year.
“Saara and Netumbo could contest for that position if the party really sticks by the 50/50 policy. But as you know, Hage [Geingob] is leaning towards having Helmuth [Angula] ,as his vice president so it might be tricky. You might also just see them changing things to reserve secretary general and deputy secretary general positions for women and the men take the top two and subsequently justify it by claiming that there is 50/50 in the top four, but let us wait and see,” said a senior party insider, who lifted the lid of some in-house plans being mooted.
Despite the party having adopted the zebra system, and the number of women in senior positions in Parliament and Cabinet increasing, Swapo has been accused of using the policy selectively.
Out of the 104 members of the National Assembly, only 48 percent are women while in the National Council out of 42 members, only 10 are women.
Haingura’s detractors are in full swing in an attempt to oust her, saying she has failed the women’s council and failed to implement resolutions adopted at the last congress.
The Women’s Council, at its last council, resolved to create a veteran women advisory structure consisting of 13 women cadres from all the 13 regions that will attend the Council’s central committee meetings as non-voting members.
Haingura at the time also said the Council would press for better salaries of the party functionaries at all levels, while raising awareness on the effects of drug and alcohol abuse among young people.
Haingura had also vowed to put legal mechanisms in place both at national and party levels to effect amendments in the country’s Constitution, as well as that of the party. Her hammer is also out to reform existing laws to make provision for women quotas to achieve gender balance in public institutions. This has not been achieved.
“Those resolutions were not even implemented, why should we vote for her again. We cannot wheelbarrow people just because they are in power while they are not delivering,” said a SPWC insider, who chose to remain anonymous.
Meanwhile, while the rest of the regions are preparing to travel to Keetmanshoop, The Patriot can reveal that a 25-member team led by Swapo’s deputy chief chip Hamunyera Hambyuka is currently in the Omaheke to restructure the branches and districts in the region.
A member of the travelling delegation said the districts and structures in the region are non-existent, adding that the delegates who were initially selected to represent the region in Keetmanshoop were handpicked.
“There are no structures at the branch and district levels, we have to hold district conferences in all seven districts as well as a regional conference on Monday,” said the source.
The Patriot understands that the region’s coordinator was reprimanded by the party’s top four for failing to run the party’s affairs in the region effectively.
Over 400 delegates are expected at the congress.
Efforts to get hold of Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba proved futile, as his mobile phone was off.