Namandje quits Swapo elections job

Lawyer leaves role he assumed in 2004
For the first time in 18 years, the Swapo congress will have a new face presiding over its elections.
Mathias Haufiku
The ruling party is frantically scrambling in search of a presiding officer to oversee, amongst other tasks, elections at its congress next week.

The congress will elect the party’s top four leaders for the next five years, including the country’s potential next head of state. Members of the central committee will also be elected.

The search for the presiding officer comes after lawyer Sisa Namandje informed the party in July 2020 that he does not want to be considered this time around.

There are, however, talks that Namandje got wind of the party’s plans to replace him and thus jumped ship before Swapo could effect this.

He has presided over elections at four congresses, having assumed the role during the highly-controversial 2004 congress that led to the resignation of late party stalwart Hidipo Hamutenya, who subsequently went on to form the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP). Namandje refused to comment when contacted.

One-man show

At this stage, party functionaries such as Fillemon ‘Wise’ Immanuel and Joshua Kaumbi are amongst the persons touted to be in the running for this role.

Unconfirmed reports have it that Immanuel has been appointed as presiding officer. The party did not respond to questions on this matter.

There are talks within Swapo corridors that the party’s leadership wants to rope in a law firm to conduct the voting process at congress - in the process moving away from the one-man show which the over 700 delegates became accustomed to during the Namandje era.

Namibian Sun understands Namandje threw in the towel to focus on other aspects of his legal career.

Critics within the party’s circles are, however, advocating for a replacement, saying Fishrot-related allegations made against the well-known lawyer do not bode well for the party’s efforts to distance itself from the scandal.

Namandje, who has maintained his innocence in the Fishrot scandal, has been entrenched within Swapo circles. He is the personal lawyer for President Hage Geingob and his wife, Monica, as well as former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Analyst’s view

Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said the party needs to ensure that the internal elections are run credibly, even if it has to consider a fully-fledged law firm to run the process.

“It looks like the party wants to make sure the process is credible. They will go beyond even looking at a law firm to run the process; it will be costly, but it will help to prevent other controversies.”

He said the credibility of the voting process at congress will be the biggest concern in the minds of delegates.

“Reputation is very important, therefore the party needs a person with good standing and who is seen as impartial by all candidates and delegates. The presiding officer must also not have any vested interests,” he added.

Kamwanyah also cautioned against vote-buying, saying it is a culture that should not be tolerated in politics.

“Candidates should by all means avoid money in electoral processes because you will end up with a situation where only people with resources will be elected, at the expense of those with the competencies and skills, but who lack resources.”

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Namibian Sun 2022-11-27

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