Swapo Gears Up for ‘Pot’

WITH the passing of the Namibian Constitution Third Amendment Bill in the National Assembly, the ruling Swapo Party is now looking to the weekend’s Electoral College – this time with a list of 96.

The electoral college will start today and end Sunday in Windhoek.

Although the expansion means that more people will have a place on the list, speculation is rife that a handful of party veterans are planning not to stand in the ‘pot’, which also means they will not be available for parliament next year.

Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba confirmed yesterday that he has “a few names” but refused to say who had indicated that they were not standing.

Mbumba also said that he would not provide the list since it was still growing and that people had until today to indicate if they did not wish to stand.

So far only the Swapo Party Youth League secretary Elijah Ngurare said that he has written to Mbumba indicating that he will not be available to stand for the ‘pot’.

However, the party’s rumour mill has been throwing around some names of party elders who are said to be either pondering not to stand or have decided to retire.

Some of the names being thrown about are that of Minister of Defence Nahas Angula National Assembly speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Rosalia Nghidinwa Minister of Safety and Security Immanuel Ngatjizeko and Minister of Works and Transport Erkki Nghimtina.

While Angula refused to talk about his retirement yesterday, Hausiku said he had not notified the Swapo secretary general of his decision. He urged the paper to wait until Saturday when the information about who is standing will be made public.

Ngatjizeko said such information will be available at Mbumba’s office, while some party sources said that he was still undecided whether to stand or go into retirement. Nghidinwa refused to comment. Both Gurirab and Nghimtina could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Namibian has learned that some of those who are running used the Heroes’ Day and the State House event where President Hifikepunye Pohamba conferred awards, to lobby for votes. Lists are also being discussed and blocks are being formed. There are others who are just fighting for survival.

For the first time since independence, no one is really secured of sailing through the ‘pot’. This year’s contest for making it to the party list for the National Assembly is tight, despite the number that was increased by 24. Most of those vying for the Swapo pot, remain restless on the eve of the event. Party elders are said to be the most concerned for their positions, especially men.

The fight is expected to be fierce: with the 5050 gender representation giving women an aantage a larger group of former and current youth league leaders will be participating. At least, 10 SPYL leaders and graduates are also contesting in the ‘pot’.

The old guard, despite having appeared divided, has allegedly already started closing rank in order to ensure that as many of those known as the Tanga (Tanganyika) group as possible make it higher up on the list.

The elders have been criticised for holding on to office. The majority of the Swapo old guard are over 70 years of age. So far, none of the Swapo veterans has indicated that they are willing to go into retirement.

The opposite has happened with former Swapo secretary general Ngarikutuke Tjiriange who attempted unsuccessfully to revive his political career. Tjiriange retired from politics in 2009, when he vacated his post as Minister of Veterans Affairs. Current veterans affairs minister Nickey Iyambo and local government minister Charles Namoloh, are said to be behind the caucus canvassing for the old guard, after fears that there was a move to out-vote them. Iyambo referred questions to secretary general Mbumba while Namoloh dismissed the claims as rumours.

Prime Minister Hage Geingob is also expected to lobby for a number of party members he would like to form part of his executive team when he takes over as President next year.

Source : The Namibian