By Nkrumah Mushelenga
IN AN article published in the Windhoek Observer dated Friday 18th May 2012, Speaker of the National Assembly, Comrade Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab was quoted as having said, “The notion of a non-Oshiwambo president is a fair demand, provided that the prospective candidate has the necessary qualifications.”
Prior to this article, there have been numerous articles in the print media authored by the Hon. Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture Hon. Kazenambo Kazenambo, “KK”.
Comrade Kazenambo has been aggressively advocating this notion to such an extent that some of us are now developing a genuine desire to know as to whether this is a SWAPO PARTY notion, or an individual member of the PARTY’s generated notion?
The truth of the matter is that this notion is no longer secret. It is spreading like a wild fire and the danger is that it is being and can be taken out of context, if not addressed through SWAPO PARTY Organs.
We, the SWAPO PARTY ordinary members, consider this as a provocative, interesting, debatable topic. Provocative in the sense that it is characterized by tribalism, while the SWAPO PARTY’s Constitution Preamble (b) (1) reads as follows: to unite the people of Namibia, irrespective of race, religion, sex or ethnic origin, into a democratic, vibrant and peace-loving nation – interesting in the sense that some of us are now wondering whether this notion is a product of the past or present.
Now, if it is based on the past, what are the characteristics, that made the authors to think that why only Oshiwambo president and not others? Are the authors saying that the nomination procedures are determined on a tribal basis?
Are the authors talking about rotation of the presidency or, how does the PARTY prevent an Oshiwambo presidential candidate if the electorate through secret ballot freely and fairly elects him or her?
Equally, what are the issues? Is it the period that Oshiwambos have been presidents, or is it the manner they have been governing?
Article iii of the SWAPO PARTY Constitution is on National Organs, namely:
2.The Central Committee
3.The Political Bureau
One is expecting to see or hear this very highly national sensitive notion being articulated by and through the above structures.
The current media information on the non-Oshiwambo president has left some of us with no other alternatives, than, to seek the reality through PARTY Constitutional means. Chapter ii, Article 1V, is about SWAPO PARTY membership and these are: (a) individual membership, (b) affiliate membership.
As part of the democratic good governance characterized by transparency and accountability, in the PARTY, each individual member has a right:
(a) to demand the fulfillment of what is established in the PARTY Constitution, as well as the implementation of resolutions, decisions, directive and agreements of the PARTY;
(b) to put forward proposals and defend his or her opinions before a decision is reached on the matter under discussion;
(c) to vote at meetings on decisions to be taken in relation to matters discussed;
(d) to elect and be elected to positions of authority in the PARTY subject to restrictions set out in the Constitution;
(e) to state matters and address questions, petitions and proposals to the appropriate organs; (f) to receive concrete and timely answers to his or her questions;
(g) to express in such meetings his her opinions freely and without fear or favour and to contribute to discussions and participate in the adoption of the decisions of those organs.
Let’s look at the criteria for the SWAPO PARTY Presidential candidate. According to, Article V1 sub-article (4), a minimum of ten (10) years of continuous membership in SWAPO PARTY shall be required for a member to be eligible for membership of the Central Committee. Meanwhile Article 1X, sub-article (8) says, “ No PARTY member shall be eligible for election as President of SWAPO PARTY unless he or she meets the requirements of Article V1 (4) of this Constitution.”
Dear readers, in order for me to do a comprehensive analysis of this very important notion, on non- OSHIWAMBO President, allow me to focus on Chapter 5 Article 27 of the Constitution of Namibia.
1. According to Article 27, the President shall be the Head of State and of the Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force.
2.The executive power of the Republic of Namibia shall vest in the President and the Cabinet.
3. Except as may be otherwise provided in this Constitution or by law, the President shall in the exercise of his or her functions be obliged to act in consultation with the Cabinet.
Article 28 is about the Election of a President. According to this Article, the President shall be elected in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and subject thereto.
It is further stated that Election of the President shall be:
(a) by direct, universal and equal suffrage;
(b) Conducted in accordance with the principles and procedures to be determined by the Act of Parliament: provided that no person shall be elected as President unless he or she has received more than fifty (50) per cent of the votes cast and the necessary number of ballots shall be conducted until such result is reached.
It is important to refer to Article 28, sub-article (3) and it reads as follows: “Every citizen of Namibia by birth or descent over the age of thirty-five (35) years, and who is eligible to be elected to office as a member of the National Assembly, shall be eligible for election as President.”
Meanwhile, the procedures to nominate a Presidential candidate is outlined in sub-article (4), quote, “For all matters and incidental to ensure the free, fair and effective election of a President, the nomination shall be determined by Act of Parliament: provided that any registered political party shall be entitled to nominate a candidate, and any person supported by a minimum number of registered voters to be determined by Act of Parliament shall also be entitled to be nominated as a candidate.”
After critical analysis of SWAPO PARTY Constitution and the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, particularly focusing on relevant Chapters and Articles, and also having received a number of queries from comrades in the regions, I find myself crowded with more questions than answers.
Is there any constitutional provision within the two constitutions that prevents or restricts individuals on the basis of colour, religion, region, tribe or ethnicity not to be elected to the highest office of the land?
Why is it that the non-Oshiwambo president notion is not being addressed through PARTY Organs before it becomes a public debate? The SWAPO PARTY Constitution gives the rights to our members to: demand the fulfillment; to participate in congress; to put forward proposals; to vote at meetings; to elect and be elected; to state matters and address questions; and indeed to receive concrete and timely answers.
Are we saying that through all these constitutional provisions, we will not be able to address this very important but sensitive notion to its logical conclusion?
The other ambiguity of this notion is whether the authors are referring to a non-Oshiwambo SWAPO PARTY President, or, the President of the Republic. The record shows that SWAPO Presidential candidates are elected through PARTY Organs and that the SWAPO PARTY Presidential candidate becomes the President of the Republic through. direct, universal and equal suffrage election proceedings.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Comrade D Theo Ben Gurirab, expressed his view, that the “notion of non-Oshiwambo president is a fair demand, provided the prospective candidate has the necessary qualifications”. He further said that, if the person identified is the best man for the job, and perhaps even a better candidate than the first two presidents (Founding President Nujoma and President Pohamba), then there is no reason for preventing that person from becoming president.
The SWAPO PARTY Constitution put 10 years’ requirement for Central Committee eligibility, which in a way is through which one can become a presidential candidate – that is being a member of the Central Committee. What does Comrade Theo mean by “necessary qualifications”? And what does he mean by “best man for the job”? What does he mean by “Namibia has had two Oshiwambo-speaking presidents and the time might be right for someone from another group to take over”?
In fact, these are very strong views, views that are covered under Chapter 3 Article 21 (a) (b) but again if these well-thought views are not discussed at the party Organ level, they can be misinterpreted or abused to destroy the good purpose for which it was developed.
Since the burning issue is presidential succession, and is covered by Article 21 sub-articles (a) and (b), and since both constitutions refer to he, or she, may I kindly request the three Organs of the PARTY to consider a female president during the next presidential election at PARTY level.
Finally let me conclude by quoting some of the SWAPO constitutional obligations;
1. To be of exemplary conduct and to act in a spirit of comradeship towards other members of the PARTY;
2. To observe and comply with decisions, resolutions and directives of the majority, even though he or she might have voted against them or held a diverging opinion during the discussion; and,
3. To promote and exercise criticism without fear and self-criticism with a view to overcoming any defects, errors or deviations in the PARTY.
As concerned members of the PARTY, we are seeing potholes planted in the process of nominations and elections of a presidential candidate characterized by tribalism sentiment, deviation from the PARTY principle core Organs and developing into an uncertain future.
In view of this, comrades, President, Vice President, Secretary-General and Vice-Secretary-General, we are kindly requesting your collective intervention to save the situation from exploding into tribal conflict. Prevention is better than cure and justice delayed, is justice denied.
May god bless the land of the brave!.
Two questions – what are the characteristics of a best man which are not inbuilt in a best woman? What are the characteristics of necessary qualifications?