… To Stand for SG
By Kuvee Kangueehi
Secretary-General of the Swapo Party, Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange, says he will stand for re-election at the upcoming Swapo Party Congress next month.
Speaking to New Era in an exclusive interview, Tji-riange said he has consulted a number of party members on the issue and will vie for the position at the congress.
“I think I am coming back as Secretary-General of the Swapo Party.”
Tjiriange said his earlier decision not to stand for any of the top four positions of the party has disappointed many party members, hence his change of mind.
Tjiriange, who is also the Minister of Veteran Affairs, said the party is going through a difficult period and it will not be wise for him to leave now.
He noted that drastic change is not always necessary and sometimes continuity is needed to give the party stability.
He added that since President Sam Nujoma is leaving, some of the old faces have to remain in the top four positions because everybody cannot go at the same time.
“I will feel like abandoning the ship if I leave now.”
Tjiriange added that he is optimistic that he will retain the position but was quick to add that he will have no hard feelings if he loses.
The public announcement by Tjiriange comes as a complete surprise because he is usually media shy. It is also not in Swapo “culture” for people aspiring for higher office to publicly declare their intentions.
However, a party insider claims that Tjiriange has no chance in retaining the position and his stance will only confuse party members.
The insider added that a few weeks ago, Tjiriange announced in the Kunene Region that he is vying for the vice-president’s position.
Tjiriange has been Swapo’s main legal advisor since 1970 and was Minister of Justice for 13 years. He was the only mi-nister in the initial Cabinet of 1990 who was still in the same post at the start of 2003.
From March 2000 to January 2001, he served as Attorney General as well as Justice Minister. In August 2002 Tjiriange was elected Swapo Party Secretary-General after Nujoma nominated him at the party congress.
Tjiriange joined Swapo in the early 1960s and left for exile in 1964. At the Tanga Consultative Congress (1969-70) he was chosen as Swapo’s deputy secretary for legal and economic affairs. At the time, he was studying Law in the Soviet Union. He became secretary for legal affairs in 1976.