By Mathias Haufiku
The ruling party’s leadership has yet to fire the starting gun on the leadership race, but already coordinators are at loggerheads and teams have been assembled to back the various candidates vying for the party’s top four positions.
At the moment, President Hage Geingob’s vice president position seems to be the most sought-after position with several party top guns touted to compete for it at the party’s congress in December.
The Patriot has been reliably informed by insiders that underground plots have been enacted to ensure that Geingob stands unopposed at the congress.
This has left swathes of the Swapo members deeply dissatisfied, amid growing concerns on the clandestine activities under way, breeding dirty tricks and smear campaigns.
And the allegations of money exchanging hands and coordinators taking bribes are a common feature.
This was evident last week during the two-day coordinators’ meeting held in Ongwediva, where coordinators convened to discuss pertinent party matters that included the so-called “Okalongo Wedding”.
Held at the popular Hotel Destiny, inside sources who attended the meeting said it turned into a Armas Amukwiyu (Oshikoto coordinator) and Phillip Heita (Erongo coordinator) affair after the two confronted each other.
“Amukwiyu accused Heita of running to Geingob after the founding father’s birthday bash at Etunda last year to report that Armas apparently joined the Nujoma boys. Some of us sat in the meeting all confused because we do not know of Geingob and Nujoma camps,” said one of the coordinators who opted to remain anonymous.
The source further said: “It seems the difference between Armas and Heita has to do with positions. Heita apparently asked Armas to lobby Geingob so that he [Heita] can be appointed as Governor of Erongo, but clearly nothing came out of that lobbying – if it was ever done.”
According to the source, secretary general Nangolo Mbumba called on the coordinators to forge unity among themselves and their respective regions and for them to clear the issue of “a vendetta against Geingob”.
The infamous Okalongo wedding was also up for discussion.
“The SG told us that there are people within the party that want to bring confusion in Swapo by dividing party members,” the informant said.
Efforts to get hold of Amukwiyu proved futile.
Meanwhile, Heita yesterday denied running to Geingob to report Amukwiyu.
“No, no, no…I never said such things, the person who told you those things must tell you what you are asking me. How can I accuse Armas of being a Nujoma boy if I am a Nujoma boy myself,” he said.
Heita narrated how he joined Swapo’s military wing in 1977 under the leadership of Nujoma.
“If that is the allegation then they must make it clear, I am not against the founding father and I am also not against the sitting President. I respect the founding father and those plotting to stop the President from getting a second term must do so on their own, I am not part of them,” he said.
Heita said he met Amukwiyu in 2012. “During the Ongwediva meeting last week, I cleared my name and I distanced myself from those who do not want the President to get a second term,” Heita said.
Regarding the Okalongo wedding, Heita said: “I was not part of that gathering and therefore I cannot talk about what happened there.”
“I do not want to play those cheap politics and I certainly do not know why those allegations are being made against me,” Heita said.
Amukwiyu was one of Geingob’s chief lobbyists during the 2012 party congress and the battle to control the party’s coordinators forum ,which is chaired by Amukwiyu, is said to be one of the primary reasons why last week’s meeting was called.
There are also murmurs that the meeting was called so that coordinators can endorse a proposal aimed at ensuring the Geingob stands unopposed for the party’s presidency position.
Insiders indicated that such a proposal did not get off the ground as most coordinators opted not to support it.
The forum was central to Geingob’s 2012 victory at the congress because it is seen as a major factor when it comes to influencing the delegates from the regions through the coordinators-next year it is expected to be no different.
While the forum is ostensibly a body which represents the interests of the party in the regions, it has now become a bone of contention with some party members calling on the party secretariat to take disciplinary action against the forum members for forming structure not prescribed by the party constitution.
Amukwiyu last year, during an interview with this paper, said regional coordinators are an extension of the secretary general’s office.
“We are the extension in the region, we can meet anytime and discuss party affairs,” he said at the time.
Scramble for VP
Murmurs of Geingob being challenged at the party’s congress this year are slowly fading, a situation which has now diverted all the attention to the vice presidency seat and many names have since been thrown around.
Swapo heavyweights are currently engaged in an intense race to land the ruling party’s vice presidency seat at the congress slated for later this year. In fact, some are even crisscrossing the country lobbying in the regions for support.
The Patriot understands that behind-the-scenes opponents of Geingob are discouraging support for him by saying he is running the country to the ground.
His proponents, however, feel that – just like his two predecessors – he should be allowed to run the country for two terms and execute all his plans.
So far names being flaunted to run for the VP position include former Prime Minister Nahas Angula, former Cabinet ministers Kazenambo Kazenambo and Helmuth Angula, current deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana. Analysts have warned that a packed contestation for the party’s VP position could leave the party divided into small splinter groups.