Politics is like a square dance. Just when everything is going smoothly well, everybody changes partners again. Swapo Acting President, Hage Geingob, finds himself in that ugly situation. He is feeling the heat.
Geingob was handed over the Swapo “Acting Presidency” on a silver platter. But his insatiable lust for power clumsily spoiled it all. It seems Geingob does not know when to fight, and when to stop. He has a terrible sense of timing.
In April 2015, former President Hifikepunye Pohamba resigned and unconstitutionally “handed over” Swapo to Geingob. Geingob was to be acting Swapo President until this month’s congress. The Constitution dictates so.
But no sooner had Pohamba left the Oshakati Sport Stadium, Geingob suddenly crowned himself as substantive President of Swapo. It was a reckless undertaking, blindly taken to frog-march him to this month’s elective congress as a “sole candidate.” Ever since then, the “sole candidacy” mantra has been irritatingly sung with monotonous regularity.
The lead singer in this Harambee Choir, Swapo Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba, has not been smart though. Both Geingob and Mbumba know that there is nothing like a “sole candidacy” in the Constitution of Swapo.
Swapo Party Election Rules and Procedures are also very clear on this.
“No position shall be filled by automatic promotion, acclamation or confirmation unless only one candidate is nominated for the post.”
But sure enough, with the “sole candidacy” mantra in mind, and being not so smart as a politician, Mbumba has presided over one the messiest restructuring processes of Swapo structures in the regions ahead of an elective congress since independence.
Mbumba has simply tossed aside the Constitution of Swapo and thrown overboard the Swapo Party Election Rules and Procedures which guide restructuring processes.
Many section, branch and regional structures were only stuffed with Geingob’s supporters – groomed and programmed to sing the “sole candidacy” mantra all the way to the congress.
Those perceived to be anti-Geingob were either chucked out or sidelined. But these cadres knew their rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Swapo and took the matter up with Mbumba.
In cases where Mbumba – stubborn and arrogant that he is – could not listen, they approached the Politburo, Central Committee and, in the ultimate, the High Court to have their grievances heard. What followed were nullifications here and nullifications there.
There are still court cases pending. And the congress is just a few weeks away. As the “sole candidacy” mantra suffered terrible knockouts in various regions, Geingob and Mbumba tried to push it through the politburo.
Many Politburo members are ministers. They toe the line or risk being fired. They dance and prance the way Geingob has programmed them. But Geingob and Mbumba were held back in their tracks in the formidable Central Committee where Geingob enjoys little support. They were firmly told in frank terms that the “sole candidacy” mantra was unconstitutional. It was shredded and buried there.
True, Swapo has faced many stormy weathers since its inception in April 1960. But never has it been so divided as it is today. The main culprits are Geingob and Mbumba.
The “sole candidacy” mantra was loosely pegged around the fact that nobody had ever contested against either Founding President Sam Nujoma or Former President Pohamba.
Geingob, they argued, should therefore not be contested against. But Geingob and Mbumba attended the Extra-Ordinary Congress held in Swakopmund in 2013 where amendments to the Constitution and the Swapo Party Election Rules and Procedures were proposed and adopted. In any case, neither Nujoma nor Pohamba ever pushed through a “sole candidacy” stance before they were elected.
It is only Geingob who is doing that now. But brave and fearless leaders in Swapo stood up to him and lectured him on what the Constitution of Swapo and the Swapo Party Election Rules and Procedures say. In the end, he grudgingly accepted his faulty views on the Constitution. The “sole candidacy” mantra is history now.
But as if that was not embarrassing enough, Geingob again pulled out another gaffe when he nominated himself as a candidate for the Swapo Presidency. Those who attended that Politburo meeting listened in disbelief as he went on to announce his “slate” for the posts of Vice President, Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General.
However, candidates also interested in those positions let that blunder pass, knowing very well that they would be procedurally nominated and seconded at the Central Committee meeting which followed a week later.
The floodgate is now open. Geingob has to swallow his pride and fight it out with stalwarts Nahas Angula and Jerry Ekandjo. Geingob knows that the two are no pushovers. This causes him nightmares.
Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah faces Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Helmut Angula for the Vice Presidency. Sophia Shaningwa battles it out with Armas Amukwiyu for the Secretary General’s post. Petrina Haingura, Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun and Marco Hauisiku eye the Deputy Secretary General’s post.
Despite all these candidates having been dully nominated, seconded and endorsed by the Central Committee of Swapo, “Team Hage” is still frantically asking regions and wings to endorse Geingob as a “sole candidate.” Some regions have even ridiculously endorsed him twice. Mbumba happily sings along.
When Team Swapo Party launched its campaign at Swapo Headquarters two weeks ago, Mbumba fled the Swapo Headquarters, claiming that he had a “scheduled appointment.”
Whatever semblance of leadership there was in him, he slaughtered it himself that day. As Secretary General, Mbumba could hardly afford to run away from stalwarts like Nahas Angula, Jerry Ekandjo, Ngarikutuke Tjiriange and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana.
As the buildup to the congress gathers momentum, there will be nasty battles and unmitigated smear campaigns. Last month, we witnessed in disbelief as Team Hage hijacked the late Angelika Muharukua’s funeral for their campaign in Opuwo.
Without sensitivity to the grieved mourners, Swapo Regional Coordinator, Tuarungua Kavari, announced in the cemetery that “all delegates present at the funeral” should meet Swapo “President” Geingob shortly afterwards.
This was the worst form of abomination. The body was still not yet laid to rest. The elders had not performed their traditional rituals. Yet, in seconds, Team Hage went full-house on a campaign trail. Such desperation is disgusting.
Recently too, we witnessed a photo-shopped picture of Dr Elijah Ngurare circulating on social media, apparently “having sex” with UNAM students. Days later, it was followed by another post claiming that Team Hage had “given” Asser Ntinda N$150 000, 00 to “spy on” Team Swapo Party! Wonders shall never end.
Team Hage’s campaign has become dirty and comic – dirty because it smears its rivals and comic because it regards “forced endorsements” as a sign of popularity ahead of the congress.
If anything, these laughable endorsements have only severed the trust and thrown away the moral suasion which has held Swapo together for 57 years. They are false steps in a mating dance.
Team Hage is off-balance. Its level of desperation indicates that heads are spinning in there. Team Swapo Party is on the ball, taking the Constitution of Swapo to the regions. Geingob and Mbumba should not be allowed to do as they please in Swapo.
Thus, Geingob lost the “sole candidacy” mantra because he does not respect the Constitution of Swapo. When he is reminded about this, he just churns out some uninspiring tantrums.
Said Geingob recently: “They (Angula, Iivula- Ithana, Helmut and Ekandjo) were also in the Politburo and the Central Committee. What did they do? Every time we meet, it’s just constitution this and constitution that. We will get to that later….”
Dr Geingob, there is no “later.” It is either now or never. The Constitution is Swapo. Without it, there is no Swapo. If you do not respect it now, there is no guarantee that you will respect it when you become President of Swapo.
Team Swapo Party is not about tribalism. It is about saving Swapo’s Constitution. The hour is ticking by. As Hage “hangs around the corner,” apparently coming in a miraculous way Jesus came, Team Swapo Party is on the ground, exhibiting the values of the Swapo Constitution.
The mission is to revive, revitalize and restore Swapo to its former glorious self. Geingob and Mbumba cannot violate the Constitution of Swapo with impunity and hope to live and enjoy the rewards. They must account for their deeds.
NB: Asser Ntinda is the Editor of Namibia Today, the official weekly newspaper of Swapo Party. The views expressed here are his own, and not necessarily those of Namibia Today.