…Pohamba and Nujoma declared full members, Shaningwa booted
As the battle to occupy the vacant Swapo presidency seat grows increasingly bitter, the three candidates, Hage Geingob, Jerry Ekandjo and Nahas Angula have each baptized themselves as the candidate to unite the party and protect it from splitting apart.
Although the unity being preached is not quite visible on the ground, the rhetoric tells a different story.
Each camp claims that if elected, they are committed to bring about changes that would fill the ideological gaps in terms of policy, economic prosperity hinged on continuity and the much talked about unity.
The party’s elections come at a time when it’s riddled with Geingob’s leadership and his immersion in a succession of scandals. Disputes over who will get to vote have been the order of the day during the stormy regional conferences.
In addition, political uncertainty has also weighed in on the economy, with the nation having fallen into a recession this year, business confidence at rock-bottom and the unemployment rate at an ever-escalating pace.
And while politicians are supposed be having sleepless nights over the teetering economy, their minds are far-removed and are more troubled by their political future.
At the Politburo meeting yesterday, Geingob was nominated as party president, followed by deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as vice president, urban minister Sophia Shaningwa as secretary general and former MP Marco Hausiku as deputy secretary general.
Geingob was nominated by Nangolo Mbumba; Nandi-Ndaitwah was nominated by Swapo deputy SG Laura McLeod-Katjiua; Shaningwa by justice minister Albert Kawana while Hausiku was nominated by vice president Nickey Iiyambo.
As widely predicted, the other two camps, one led by former prime minister Nahas Angula and Sports Minister Jerry Ekandjo decided against nominating their candidates for the top four positions.
The Patriot understands that the reason as to why the two camps opted against nominating their candidates was informed by fears of having their candidates blocked, a strategy that could have been deployed by the Geingob camp.
This is to say, had any of Ekandjo and Angula’s candidates made themselves available for yesterday’s nominations and were blocked, they would be ineligible for nominations for the top positions at Congress.
The two camps will nominate and endorse their candidates for the party’s top positions at the Central Committee (CC) meeting to be held on Sunday instead.
According to sources familiar with the decision, the 84-member CC meeting presents a more levelled field for individuals aspiring for Swapo’s top posts, contrary to the Politburo.
In what could best be describes as the local version of Game of Thrones, the tactics on display were compared to psychological warfare. Moments after Geingob’s team was announced Camp Hage applauded their ‘Top 4’ with resounding furore.
Upon speaking to members of the opposing camps, it was widely alleged that this was done as agreed during hosted at Geingob’s residence during which the acting Swapo president threatened to fire ministers who refused to clap hands after the announcement and nomination of his team.
A Politburo member who declined to be named confirmed that Ekandjo and immigration minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana defied Geingob’s order and refused to clap hands.
The next item on the agenda was the allegations mounted by Politburo members that Geingob was threatening minsters to endorse his sole candidacy aspiration or otherwise risk losing their jobs.
According to the source “Geingob vehemently denied the claims and asked any minister who had be threatened by him to state so, but none of the ministers did so” fearing victimisation.
Pohamba seeks clarity
With Nujoma and Pohamba described as silent throughout the meeting, President Pohamba spoke once asking for clarity in terms of his and founding president Nujoma’s right and privileges as members of the Politburo.
According to the source, Pohamba was told that the two former presidents were full members and thus had full voting powers, as is the case with all Politburo members.
The next bone of contention was Shaningwa’s recent elevation to Swapo’s highest decision-making body, the Politburo. Sources close to Swapo confirmed that Shaningwa become a Politburo member a mere two weeks ago. Geingob is said to have invited Shaningwa single handedly with out following due process in terms of the party rules and procedures.
Shaningwa’s inclusion, however, did not sit well with senior party members – one such member was Ekandjo who lectured Geingob on how one becomes a member of Swapo’s Politburo.
When the meeting put it to Geingob as to how Shaningwa became a Politburo member, the President stated vaguely “she replaced Pohamba”.
The source said a firing Ekandjo who was quoting from the party’s rule book then schooled Geingob on how the party rules and regulations work.
“At which congress was she elected? Pohamba was elected at the 2012 congress. One can only be elected at a congress and that did not take place,” said Ekandjo before Geingob was forced to agree as due process and procedures in Shaningwa’s elevation were ignored. Shaningwa was then asked to excuse herself from the Politburo meeting.
Mbumba and Angula fight?
According to information circulating in the public domain, Swapo’s secretary for information Helmut Angula and secretary general Mbumba were involved in a scuffle shortly before the Politburo meeting.
When approached by this publication shortly after the meeting, Angula was quick to discredit the rumour saying “it is just fake news”. “You were together with us there[Swapo Headquarters], when you were greeting Mbumba, he was in front of me and I was behind. We never met. And when you were still standing there, I was going to my car, I never met Mbumba.”
He was quick to add: “And in the meeting, I was the first to go in the room and he was the second…it was only two of us there. If there was something[a fight], nobody could have seen it. We never spoke about anything, not even in the programme.
“It’s just psychological warfare…fake news. And these days, you can expect all of these from the detractors. Until November 26, you will hear a lot of these fake news.”
The Central Committee meeting of Swapo will take place on Sunday.