CRITICAL MOMENT: Swapo executive director Austin Samupwa. PHOTO: National Council for Higher Education
CRITICAL MOMENT: Swapo executive director Austin Samupwa. PHOTO: National Council for Higher Education

Samupwa’s Swapo contract not renewed

Central committee and politburo give cold shoulder
The ruling party's chief administrator could be out in the cold next month, but President Geingob allegedly has a plan for him.
Staff Reporter
Swapo has not renewed the contract of its executive director Austin Samupwa, which ended immediately after the emotionally-charged party congress in December.

Namibian Sun understands party president Hage Geingob is working on a solution to ‘save’ Samupwa, with a government position being mooted.

Samupwa, who supported Saara Kuugogelwa-Amadhila as candidate for the vice-president position, was handed a brief contract extension, which ends in March.

The central committee and politburo - which are currently teeming with supporters of Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who was re-elected as Swapo vice-president at that congress - are the structures authorised to appoint the executive director.

Geingob elected not to endorse any candidate ahead of congress, a decision that infuriated Nandi-Ndaitwah supporters, who charged that the president had an obligation to support his vice-president – as per a supposed long-held Swapo ‘tradition’.

Nandi-Ndaitwah went on to win against Prime Minister Kuugogelwa-Amadhila and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta.

Swapo insiders thus believe the prospects of Samupwa getting a new contract from the central committee and politburo – structures overflowing with supporters of the candidate he opposed at congress - are nearly non-existent.

Asked to leave

The former Zambezi regional education director was appointed as Swapo executive director in March 2018, for a term of five years. The executive director is responsible for the party's administration.

Samupwa’s first run-in with his congress adversaries was at a recent politburo meeting, which he attended in his capacity as executive director to take notes of the proceedings, but was instructed to leave because he is a member of the central committee.

“He was elected as a central committee member at congress, but never as a politburo member. He is conflicted because the only central committee members who can attend politburo meetings are those who are members of the politburo itself.

"So, he can’t come to politburo under the pretext of being executive director,” a politburo member told Namibian Sun yesterday.

Hage the saviour?

With Geingob’s allegiances unclear since congress – amid unending speculation that he silently supported Nandi-Ndaitwah’s rivals – there is growing speculation that he and Samupwa were in the same camp.

At the politburo meeting where Samupwa was shown the door, Geingob allegedly remarked that he was “pending deployment”, igniting speculation that he will ensure the outgoing executive director does not become unemployed.

There is speculation that a Cabinet reshuffle is looming, and that Geingob will use that opportunity to hand Samupwa a new job.

“Samupwa has become a regular at State House. He’s known to be a good lobbyist and that is what he’s doing at State House,” another Swapo source told Namibian Sun.

‘You like stories’

Although Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa was the one who announced Samupwa’s appointment in 2018, she was in a foul mood yesterday when asked to comment on the motive for the non-renewal of his contract.

“What about it? Who told you? What is your interest? After you know, what are you going to do about it?

“You like stories! Just go back to who told you. Me, I don’t like rumours,” she fumed.

On his part, Samupwa kept it short and sweet: “There is no issue. If there will be, the Swapo Party will attend to it”.


Namibian Sun 2023-03-29

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