Seven jump out of pot

06 September 2019 | Politics

Former trade minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko, Namibia's ambassador to China, Elia Kaiyamo, and his counterpart in Botswana, Asser Kapere, are among seven central committee members that have declined the automatic nominations as Swapo electoral college candidates.

Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku and //Karas regional coordinator Mathew Mumbala, as well as current party heads in Kunene and Kavango East, Tuarungua Kavari and Ottilie Shinduvi, respectively, have also bowed out of the contest.

A week ago Swapo's executive director Austin Samupwa confirmed the unavailability of seven central committee members to stand for the pot, which will elect 96 Swapo National Assembly candidates for the November general election. It is not clear at this stage whether others have also opted not to stand.

The Swapo secretariat had set 3 September as the deadline for members to decline their automatic nominations. Central committee members are automatically nominated as pot candidates. Current Swapo MPs who are not part of the central committee are also automatic delegates. Both the youth league and Swapo elders' council will also each send 12 delegates and six candidates for the pot, while the women's council has the constitutional privilege of being represented by 20 delegates, of which 10 are pot candidates. The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) also sends 12 delegates of which six are candidates.

Old guard vs youth

Meanwhile, as the ruling party gears up for its electoral college this weekend, questions are being asked about whether enough has been done to groom youth leaders to take over from the so-called Swapo old guard.

Instead of Swapo youth being groomed to take over the party and leadership of the country, they have been drawn into the factional battles that protect the old guard.

This is according to political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah, who said the party appears to be found wanting when it comes to youth empowerment.

“All what we have seen is young people being used in different camps to protect the elders. For me that is not really grooming. Young people are also divided along those camps, instead of being divided by ideological issues and the principle of issues or the party constitution and approaches,” he said.

Kamwanyah also said it appears as if the youth are drawn to the party merely for leadership positions, without really starting from the bottom and growing in the party.

He was speaking yesterday on the eve of the Swapo electoral college or pot, where over 200 delegates will decide the ruling party MP candidate list for the November 2019 general election.

“What we have seen is young people behaving like elders, fighting for positions. The issue is just about the position and not what you know or the understanding of party ideology,” he said.

According to him the divisions, which consumed the party in the run-up to the 2017 Swapo congress, where the so-called Team Harambee and Team Swapo factions emerged - are still running deep and the outcome of the pot is most likely to favour one camp.

Political analyst Graham Hopwood believes that fault lines will be visible between the youth and the Swapo old guard at the pot.

He also raised the performance of MPs as a concern, adding there is need for Swapo to boost the quality of its MPs, in terms of their ability to contribute to debates and constructive and meaningful discussions on legislation.

“Research showed that women haven't really contributed to asking questions. It also said women MPs, particularly Swapo MPs, have not really contributed to motions and things like that. I think there is some evidence that the contribution of ruling party MPs is disappointing. One would like to see an improvement in that in the next parliament,” he said.

Political analyst Shaandre Finnies believes the party has structurally, through its young wing, done enough to empower the youth.

“I do believe that over the past three years the party president, Hage Geingob, and the leadership have been aware of the youth deficit within governance structures.

“Young people in the party have proven they can deliver. A prime example is recently appointed Kunene governor Marius Sheya. He was entrusted by the head of state with the leadership of a region that is faced with unimaginable challenges.

“He has over the past few months risen to the occasion and proved to all those who are afraid of youth leadership in the party and in government that it is possible for young people to lead and lead responsibly,” said Finnies.

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