Hage's headache over who to 'save'

02 December 2019 | Local News

With 13 ministers and deputy ministers falling beyond the 63 seats that Swapo gained for the National Assembly in the just-ended general election, President Hage Geingob faces a stern test of character when deciding who to include on his list of eight presidential nominees to parliament.

Senior ministers Erkki Nghimtina (labour and social welfare) and Charles Namoloh (safety and security) did not make the cut.

Also not making the list of those voted into parliament on the Swapo list are deputy ministers Anna Shiweda (agriculture), Maureen Hinda-Mbuende (international relations), Becky Ndjoze-Ojo (higher education), Veikko Nekundi (public enterprises) and Lidwina Shapwa (justice).

They are joined in the cold by deputy ministers James Sankwasa (works), Piet van der Walt (economic development), Engel Nawatiseb (ICT), Priscilla Beukes (poverty eradication), Chief Ankama (OPM) and Tommy Nambahu (labour). Swapo had an electoral performance to forget, after losing 14 seats in the National Assembly. From the 77 seats attained in 2014, the party could only muster 63 this time.

Like many of its liberation struggle peers in Southern Africa, the party lost its two-thirds majority in the process, after getting just below 66% of the vote. A two-thirds majority is attained through 66.67% of the overall vote.

Swapo presidential candidate Hage Geingob lost 30% of the smashing 86.7% he attained in 2014 to get 56.25% this year - the lowest return by a Namibian sitting head of state. It is also the first time the party beat its presidential candidate in a general election in Namibia.

Swapo was punished at the polls by mostly urban youth, who are battling socio-economic hardships such as record unemployment rates, in which they are the main victims.

Corruption scandals and the party's perceived lack of political will to deal with such occurrences, exacerbated by the inclusion of criminal convicts on the party list for parliament, also angered the lion's share of the voting public.

With the economy stuck in recession for years, with no clear plan to pull it out of its doldrums, there was little success the ruling party could boast about to the electorate.

Internal divisions in the party, fuelled by a perceived lack of leadership to unite rival factions, might have had some members voting for the opposition, which made major inroads into Swapo's support base.

This was evident in particularly the official opposition PDM increasing its share of the National Assembly seats from five to 16.

Both Swapo and Geingob have voters in the north and north-eastern regions to thank for their otherwise unimpressive performance.

As if the performance was not bad enough, President Geingob now has a fresh challenge on his hand when he appoints his nominees to parliament.

Already, his minister of economic affairs Obeth Kandjoze is not on the parliamentary list. This might mean including him on the list of new parliamentary nominees.

Swapo chief whip in the National Assembly Eveline Nawases-Taeyele is also outside the threshold of those voted into parliament and may look to Geingob for salvation.

The non-voting members are appointed for various reasons, such as youth or tribal inclusion, or as was the case for nominating Kandjoze and Dr Bernard Haufiku in 2015, to inject technocrats into a system dominated largely by politicians with no specialised technical skills.


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