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EDITORIAL: Age is just a number

In the current domain of Swapo septuagenarian politics, a presidential candidate aged 61 would be considered a ‘child’ who must wait to contest a decade or so from now.

Yet, Sam Nujoma – arguably the greatest leader the country has had in the last 32 years – was exactly that age when he ascended to the throne in 1990. Age did not affect how he led the country in a very difficult and sensitive period, fresh from the skirmishes of a brutal war.

The sensitive question of age — one of the trickiest and most unpredictable in the political playbook — has been used as cannon fodder in the current Swapo campaigns ahead of congress.

To people like former president Hifikepunye Pohamba, Pohamba Shifeta, who is 54, is too young to have a bite at the vice-president cherry, while detractors of Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah are poking holes in her age of 69.

The third horse in the race, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, is 54 too. Evidence before our eyes shows that there have been successes and failures on both sides of the age divide, thus minifying the notion that ability or wisdom lies within solely a particular age.

While it’s true that old age has its associated deficiencies such as memory loss and physical frailties, many young people in the country have equally not demonstrated basic qualities of leadership required of the highest office. Candidates must be judged by their individual content of character, nothing else.

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Namibian Sun 2022-12-04

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