Clinging onto Swapo

The dentist says his independent candidacy was born out of a desire to save Namibia from the ruins of the current administration.

28 October 2019 | Politics

Excitement engulfed the Havana sports fields on Saturday as independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula launched his long-awaited manifesto in front of his diehard supporters.

The unorthodox candidate was quick to remind roughly 1200 people - dominated by young professionals including Affirmative Repositioning (AR) activists – that he remains a Swapo member.

Swapo, in full-page newspaper adverts last week, insisted that the dentist had expelled himself from the ruling party the moment he registered himself as an independent candidate with the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).

Itula, who promises decent living and a free and ready healthcare system, said he would continue living in Katutura among the people if he were elected as president.

He would only move into State House once his nationwide housing programme had taken off, he told those in attendance.

Itula's manifesto launch was preceded by a march by young people chanting “we want change” as they walked from selected locations across Katutura.

Another group of supporters held a separate event in Goreangab near Greenwell Matongo.

Itula's manifesto promises better living standards for Namibia's young people.

He promises that 40% of his cabinet and decision-making structures in government would be occupied by the youth – mostly under 35 year of age.

Under his government, young people would be eligible for a “verifiable jobseeker allowance”, which would enable them to print CVs and to pay their taxi fares, among other basics.

“I will consult with the youth countrywide to draft a blueprint for youth empowerment. This will allow for the youth to determine the destiny of this country of which they are the rightful successor,” Itula promises.

The former Swapo Party School lecturer is campaigning under the banner 'Namibia is all we have, we must save it'.

Itula's first priority, he told his audience, is to liberate Namibia of a “corruption-soaked administration” and cronyism by reducing the number of government ministries from just over 20 to a mere 12.

The UK-trained dentist said there is an urgency to leave behind party loyalty and rally behind the nationalism of an independent president to rescue Namibia from becoming a failed state.

“As a lifelong revolutionary activist and member of Swapo, I am proud to have participated in the liberation struggle. As a veteran, I had high hopes that our democratic future supervised by the party and its ideals, would deliver on our expectations and that all our people would benefit. However, Swapo is not Namibia and Namibia is not Swapo. It cannot be permitted to be [a] club for social and economic advancement of member of its administration,” he lashed out.

In his manifesto, Itula lamented the state of the economy, which in his view is in serious danger and believes that Namibia is best served by a mixed economy open to innovation and entrepreneurial skills.

He also believes there is a need for more investments to create infrastructure in the country such as roads, housing, sanitation, electricity and potable water.

“As a priority, I intend to launch a major house-building programme to accelerate the security of our people. We will allocate the security of our people. We will allocate a piece of land on which to construct a house to all citizens who are homeless or without shelter,” Itula promises.

In recent weeks, political analysts said it was difficult to predict Itula's performance as independent candidate in next month's presidential elections because it remained unclear whether he had the resources to back up his candidature.

Perhaps clues in this regard were best displayed by dozens of Iveco buses sporting Itula's face, as well as a committed team of young footsoldiers who are spreading his message particularly in the informal settlements where the poor and downtrodden live hopelessly.

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