Stage Set for NUNW Congress

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek The National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) first vice president Alpheus Muheua appears to be in a strong position to be elected as the new president of the NUNW at the upcoming 4th Ordinary National Congress. With the deadline for nominations set for today, Muheua has been nominated as presidential candidate by seven of nine affiliates of the NUNW. By yesterday afternoon Muheua had been nominated by the Namibia Public Workers Union (Napwu), Namibia Farmworkers Union, Namibia Financial Institutions Union (NAFINU), Namibia Food and Allied Workers Union (NAFAU), the Namibia Domestic Workers Union, Namibia Music and Arts Association and the Namibia Transport and Allied Workers Union (NATAU). Only the nominations from the Namibia National Teachers Union (Nantu) and the Mineworkers Union of Namibia were outstanding by the time of going to press. However, New Era has learned that the MUN was split on their nomination. Some members of the MUN were backing their former president Connie Pandeni, while other members were pushing for Muheua. The incumbent president of the NUNW, Risto Kapenda has not been nominated by any of the affiliates, with only two unions still to submit their nominations. Kapenda’s best bet is Nantu. Although the complexion of the race could change at the congress when nominations would be made from the floor, it appears that Muheua is the clear favourite. His nomination by NAPWU and NAFAU, which are the two biggest unions that will have the highest representation in terms of delegates, gives him the edge. The current first vice president is believed to have a strong backing from most of the affiliates because of his long history with the unions. A union leader who preferred to remain anonymous stated that Muheua comes a long way with the unions from his days in the MUN until now when he is a member of NAPWU. “Muheua is a disciplinarian and likes doing things according to the book.” The source noted that another strength of Muheua is that he embraces decisions that have been taken collectively even if he personally has a different view to the matter. The source further noted that Muheua has always tried to keep out of the Swapo tensions that have boiled over to the union. The source also noted that a possibility still exists, although very remotely, that Kapenda can emerge victorious at the congress. He noted that the incumbent president has that ability to stir the emotions of the delegates with his militant style of speaking and capturing the moment. “Kapenda has in the past successfully won votes by making radical statements on land and the boers to excite the workers.” However, the source believes that the workers have matured and will be looking at somebody who delivers for the next four years and not only spit fire. The source added: “Pan-deni could be the dark horse in the race because she is a progressive person, but it will be difficult for her to beat Muheua because she does not have a lot of backing from other affiliates.” The nominations from the seven affiliates have also put David Namalenga, Elias Manga and Evilastus Kaa-ronda in strong positions to become first vice president, second vice president and secretary general respectively. The three union leaders have also 100 percent backing from the seven affiliates who have forwarded their nominations. Kaaronda, who was elected as deputy secretary general at the last congress, has been acting in that capacity since Peter Naholo was sacked in December last year. The source said Kaaronda is one of the longest serving leaders of the NUNW and was overlooked in April 2002 when Ranga Haikali quit the position. “The Central Committee at that time regarded Kaaronda as politically immature and plucked Naholo from the MUN to make him the acting secretary general.” Other names that featured prominently for other positions are Erago Tandus for deputy secretary general, who was nominated four times while Pandeni featured seven times as national treasurer, Stella Louw featured six times as vice national treasurer and Helena Helmut once for the deputy secretary position. The 4th Ordinary Congress of the NUNW will take place from April 28 to 30, 2006 at the Windhoek College of Education and will officially be opened by President Hifikepunye Pohamba.