History is beckoning for Utjiua Muinjangue, who will be vying to become the first woman to lead a political party in Namibia, a fete which will also catapult her to challenge for state presidency in 2019.
The NUDO presidential hopeful said it is high time Namibians start respecting the potential of women in the political circles, adding that her presidential candidacy is both a challenge and a source of motivation.
Muinjangue, also wants to help the party get rid of the perception that it is a party only for Otjiherero speaking people.
“I have built myself and have proved what I am capable of doing…not only with the issue of genocide but even in my career as a social worker. That tells me that, when I start something, I have perseverance, and I will carry on until I achieve what I want to achieve. When we started the issue of the genocide, people were laughing at us. Look today, it is on the agenda now and everyone is talking about it. So I am that type of person that when start something, I give my soul to it,” Muinjangue made it clear from the onset.
A social worker by profession, Muinjangue has been at the fore of community activism during pre-independence Namibia; having served as secretary general of National Unity Democratic Organization of Namibia (NUDO) Women’s League and is the current chairperson of the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation.
During a wide-ranging interview at her Khomasdal residence, she spoke of her political credentials, internal NUDO politics and women representation in Namibian politics in general.
From the start, it was clear that Muinjangue had in store an array of remedies for Namibia’s socio-political ills, and that women rights was at the core of her political struggle.
“During my time as SG of the women’s league, I participated in a lot of activities that involves women’s rights and the advocacy for women to get involved in political structures. To be involved in decision making structures and bodies and not just sit around and watch while decisions affecting them are being taken,” Muinjangue stressed at the genesis of the interview.
Pressed on what she intends to bring to Namibia’s male-dominated political arena, Muinjangue said: “There are so many socio-economic challenges in Namibia. And that is coming from background as a social worker. We have a lot issues such as substance abuse, dumping of babies, high crime which is of course as a result of other factors. All this are interrelated and are things that we must look at…especially from a woman’s perspective.
“There are those issues that can be dealt with politically. But you also need to engage those professionals. One can say, social workers are not appreciated in Namibia but a lot of issues cannot be solved without the involvement of social workers, community developers and psychologists.”
Muinjangue is set to battle it out with Okakarara Constituency councillor Vetaruhe Kandorozu for NUDO presidency when the party holds its elective congress next year.
Surprisingly, however, it was not until a few months ago that Muinjangue availed herself to contest for NUDO’s top spot.
“I am not the one who decided that I am going to run for presidency. There were a lot of requests from party members, ordinary people and I said ‘why not’? So it came from requests,” Muinjangue said.
Sources close to NUDO claim that Muinjangue had been part of the pro-Kandorozu camp for the party’s congress until recently, a claim she vehemently denies.
“I have never been part of any faction in the Nudo Party. I am a loyal and committed NUDO member. It was only though your paper two weeks ago that I got to know that Kandorozu is also aiming for presidency. So it’s news to me that I was part of anybody’s camp,” she dismissed before adding that she has welcomed the competition with Kandorozu openly.
“We will see who will come out as a winner. It is healthy competition and nothing personal. Personally what I am doing is in the interest of the party,” she noted.
In addition, having worked alongside the late Ovaherero Paramount chief and NUDO president, Kuaima Riruako and the party’s incumbent leader Asser Mbai – Muinjangue believes she has been sufficiently groomed by the two leaders to take NUDO to greater heights.
“NUDO has a potential to grow. In 2004, when NUDO moved out of DTA, it was just a few months before the elections. But we managed to get three seats. But with internal dynamics like in any organization, the number dropped. And I can guarantee you that, if the people make a mistake of not voting for me for presidency, the seats may reduce to one or even zero,” charged Muinjangue.
According to Muinjangue, the late Riruako instilled in her a great sense of humour, charisma, selflessness and a great vision.
“As a leader, I have learned that it is not about you but the people that you lead. At times you would be travelling, and my late chief would give away the last pennies to fill the car and would give that money to other people (needy). And you would ask “but chief, why are doing that? Where will the money come from? But he would say, these people look like they are more in need than us. Let us give them. We will find a plan”,” Muinjangue said fondly about the late chief.