‘I’m a Strategic Choice’, Says Shixwameni

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By Kuvee Kangueehi Windhoek Former Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting and MP Ignatius Shixwameni has declared that he will stand for the presidency of the Congress of Democrats (CoD) at the Extraordinary Congress scheduled to start tomorrow in Keetmanshoop. In an exclusive interview with New Era, Shixwameni finally broke his silence and said he would contest a second time for the position after he lost in 2004 against the incumbent Ben Ulenga. Shixwameni, who is one of the co-founders of the CoD, said the party was founded on the principles of democracy and as party members they should continue to uphold these principles. “We should not only have the courage, but also be able to challenge for positions and hopefully we can set the trend for democracy to be practised nationwide.” The former MP said when he quit Swapo it was because he could no longer tolerate the authoritarian tendency in that party. He added that he could not allow the same type of leadership to develop in a democratic party such as the CoD. Ulenga said that he had decided to stand for the top position because there is a need for the CoD’s renewal and regeneration as the party has slipped into non-functionality. The CoD, he said, as the second largest political party in the country and the main opposition party has failed to offer political alternatives and lost some of its democratic values. “In a democratic party, there should be no fear to debate and members should not belong to different factions within the party.” Shixwameni noted that the party finds itself in a poor state in terms of structures, adding that during his three-year tenure as the secretary general the party had 14 regional offices whereas it currently has only the head office in Windhoek. “In the last two months, the party has been trying to re-open two other offices but frankly, the party is busy dismantling itself.” He added that with the national elections slated for 2009, the CoD needs to re-organize itself and be more efficient than Swapo. “As an organization challenging for power, it cannot be dismantling itself and I think that I represent the strategic choice.” The former MP attributed the poor state of the party to disunity and said finger pointing should come to an end. He charged that the personality fights with self-centered agendas and leaders trying to outsmart each other at every corner should come to end. He said leaders should be able to work together. Claiming that the party was at the crossroads, Shixwameni said it was time to make a strategic choice in order to bring back disgruntled members. “We should build the CoD for the long-term future and around a vision.” He said the party needs leaders who can take it to greater heights and not leaders that are stuck in the sand because of petty squabbles. Shixwameni noted that although he has a preferred team that he would like to work with, he is prepared to work with anybody. “Congress can give me anybody and I will make it a winning team.” Shixwameni said he was more confident than in 2004. He had not planned to stand this time around until party members from various regions urged him to contest the position. The young politician called on delegates not to fear change but to come with open minds to congress in order to address the problem facing the party. Shixwameni is expected to face stiff competition from Ulenga while the party vice-president Nora Schimming-Chase will also be contesting the CoD presidency. The CoD party congress will start tomorrow and ends on Sunday.