Swapo Women Look at Changing Guard By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Incumbent Secretary of the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) Eunice Iipinge says she is confident of retaining her position ahead of the council’s election set to take place at the SPWC Congress in Rundu over the weekend. Speaking to New Era yesterday, Iipinge said although she was confident she was not desperate at all to win the contest against the deputy minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura, who has also been nominated for the position. The secretary of the SPWC said if she does not make it, she would look back with pride at the achievements of the SPWC under her leadership. Iipinge noted that the claiming of Namibian Women’s Day as a national day on the Namibian calendar is one of the achievements the SPWC had attained during her time of office. “Although the women’s day was declared during the liberation struggle after independence it was not recognized and it was only through the efforts of the SPWC under my leadership that it became a national day.” She said that another achievement that stands out from her term is the training and capacity building of most of the SPWC regional and district coordinators. Iipinge however acknowledged that her term also witnessed serious challenges and setbacks. She noted that division within the Swapo Party, which filtered through to all the structures inclu-ding the wings, is one of the biggest challenges that still haunts the SPWC. She attributed the division mainly to the Swapo Extra Ordinary Congress in 2004, which elected Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba as the party presidential candidate. “The division is still there and that is why the theme of the congress is ‘unity in diversity’.” She added that preparations for the congress have been completed and only documentation work needs to be completed before everything is ready. Iipinge revealed that the President of Swapo Party, Dr Sam Nujoma, would officially open the congress on Friday morning, while a number opinion papers will also be presented. The Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, will present a paper on a 50-50 representation of women and men at the 2007 Swapo Congress; Loine Geingos will present a paper on women and economic empowerment; Minister of Health and Social Services Richard Kamwi will speak on HIV/Aids, while a professor from the University of Queens in Germany will speak on unity in diversity. The activities report of the SPWC will also be discussed, and a review on the implementation of the last congress will also be done. Iipinge was chosen as secretary of the SPWC, the key post in Swapo’s women’s wing, in 2001. At the SPWC congress Iipinge received 284 votes while her opponent, former National Councilor Josephina Hamutwe, mustered just 77. Iipinge first became involved in the SPWC in exile, and at the wing’s congress in 1991 she was chosen as Assistant Secretary for Social Welfare and Legal Affairs. She became Assistant Secretary for Information, Research and Programmes at the 1996 congress. Meanwhile, her challenger Haingura was one of Nujoma’s 10 choices for the party list for the 2004 National Assembly elections. In March 2005 President Hifikepunye Pohamba appointed her as deputy Minister of Health and Social Services. Haingura was brought up in a Swapo-supporting household at Rundu and joined the movement in 1980. She has worked as a nurse since 1980, while her academic work has focused on her interest in community health. In 2001, she was chosen to represent the Kavango Region on the SPWC Central Committee. Although the SPWC has been quiet on the possible outcome of the election, many predict the congress will follow the pattern of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) and Nantu, which took place earlier this year. It is believed that the Ohangwena Region and some delegates of Karas and Oshana have thrown their weight behind Iipinge, while the lion’s share of the regions backs Haingura. The congress will end on Sunday evening.
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