ALL SYSTEMS GO: The seventh elective Swapo congress kicks off today in Windhoek. 
Photo: Namibian Presidency
ALL SYSTEMS GO: The seventh elective Swapo congress kicks off today in Windhoek. Photo: Namibian Presidency

All eyes on Omusati, Ohangwena

Central committee also influential
The two northern regions command the biggest number of delegates, dwarfed only by the central committee.
The Omusati and Ohangwena regions, who both sent 58 delegates to this weekend’s Swapo congress, are expected to have a major influence in the much-trumpeted race for vice-president.

The party’s central committee, which has 85 representatives, is the only bigger contributor of delegates.

Incumbent vice-president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and another contender for the position, tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta, are both from Ohangwena and both enjoy their biggest regional support from there.

The other vice-president candidate, Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, hails from Omusati – and so does secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa, who seeks re-election to that position.

It is generally expected that delegates are more likely to vote for candidates who hail from their regions, while tribal-based votes cannot be ruled out either.

Other regions of influence

The cosmopolitan Oshana has the second highest number delegates - 54, followed by Khomas at 50. The two regions have a regional and tribal mix that could benefit all candidates.

Oshikoto, where Shaningwa’s challenger Armas Amukwiyu hails from, has 42 delegates, as does Hardap, Zambezi and Kavango East.

Kunene, Erongo, Otjozondjupa and Omaheke have all sent 38 delegates. Erongo is also a largely cosmopolitan region, whose votes cannot be predicted.

||Karas and Kavango West supplied the least regional delegates – 34 each.

From the party structures, the youth league, elders’ council and veterans’ wing each supplied 16 delegates, while 20 women’s council members will be in attendance.

The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), an affiliate of Swapo, has sent 16 delegates.

'One round is enough'

Supporters of the three vice-president candidates are confident that they have done enough groundwork to ensure their candidates avoid a re-run at this weekend’s congress.

“Our camp has received a lot of delegates in recent weeks who have defected from other camps for various reasons,” a campaigner told Namibian Sun yesterday, citing ‘tactical errors’ from rival camps.

Yet, some congress delegates have predicted a tight race – so tight a second round of voting might be required.

Congress rules for the top-four positions require that a candidate must garner at least 51% of the votes in order to be declared the winner. In the absence of a majority winner, a second round of voting will be called.

For the vice-president’s position, Nandi-Ndaitwah and Kuugongelwa-Amadhila are seen as the main contenders, but Shifeta remains a dangerous dark horse who can still spring a surprise.

The winner becomes Swapo’s candidate for the national presidential election in 2024. The winner of that election will become Namibia’s next head of state.

Deputy SG race

For deputy secretary-general, Evelyn Nawases-Tayele, from Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s camp, faces competition from Uahekua Herunga, who is a supporter of Nandi-Ndaitwah.

Another candidate is David Hamutenya, whose allegiance remains fuzzy.

Lucia Witbooi, another Nandi-Ndaitwah supporter, quit the deputy secretary-general race this week amid allegations she feels her camp ‘used’ her and is now leaning towards Herunga.

This congress could produce Namibia’s first female president in the name of Nandi-Ndaitwah or Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, or a president who has never been in exile in the liberation struggle - Shifeta.


Namibian Sun 2022-12-04

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