Nudo party presidential advisor Joseph Kauandenge has availed himself for the party’s top post “if the people want me” when the party holds its elective congress in 2018. This is after current party leader Asser Mbai indicated he would not stand for reelection due to health and age restrictions. But Kauandenge, who is also a Windhoek city councillor, could face fierce competition from the likes of party secretary general Meundju Jahanika, and his deputy and Okakarara councillor Vetaruhe Kandorozu. The long-serving politician says he is the right man for the job owing to the fact that it was he and the late Nudo leader and Ovaherero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako who drew up the blueprint for pulling the party out of the DTA in 2003.
During an in-depth interview with New Era, Kauandenge revealed that the aim was to give the Ovaherero-speaking community a voice, which at the time was “suffocating” under the DTA, while in its current state Nudo is somewhat “not living up to the legacy of Riruako”. In the interview, which will be fully published in tomorrow’s edition, Kauandenge talks of youth politics, his music career, Swapo, tribal politics, corrupt City of Windhoek officials and President Hage Geingob’s Harambee Prosperity Plan. Kauandenge did not mince his words when he said it was never the plan for Nudo to be a minority party as it is currently, and he believes he is the right man to fix that.
“If the majority of people in Nudo decide that Kauandenge is the right man for the Nudo presidency, I will run hands down. I will not think twice about that because I will be in a position to revisit the past since I was there,” Kauandenge explained. “I will re-engineer Nudo into a formidable force because I know the reason why we left the hardship at the time and what the agenda was, so I will just go back to basics. So, yes. If there is that request I will not think twice about that,” said Kauandenge.
He said there was an agenda for pulling Nudo out of the DTA, which he and the late Chief Kuaima Riruako crafted, an agenda that is currently not being fulfilled.
“I did not see Nudo becoming a minority and I think it is a question of somewhere, somehow Nudo has lost direction in terms of what it intended to do and where it is right now. Nudo needs to go back to basics and relook critically at what the reasons were for pulling Nudo out of the DTA,” he said.
Kauandenge explained that at the time it was difficult for the Ovaherero people to bring their concerns such as the 1904/08 genocide or the land issue to the table, because some farm owners and Germans were part of the DTA.
“There were reasons to take Nudo out and make it a formidable force in terms of, and I am not shy to say this, representing the vast Ovaherero-speaking Namibians. That was the reason from the word go.”
He added that there are those within Nudo who are threatened by his return and his subsequent election to the Windhoek City Council. The reason, he says, is because of the role he played in the withdrawal of Nudo from the DTA.
“I believe that somehow, deep down there is a voice that tells me that my coming back to Nudo has a lot to do with the legacy of the late Chief Riruako. I think that now that he is in the other world, he realised where we went wrong.”
“The treatment that I received after working so hard for Nudo, for almost two years without pay, only to be betrayed. And it is well known history in Nudo – concerning who betrayed me in 2004. I think he sees that and through his spirit I am back in Nudo.” Nudo secretary general Meundju Jahanika also said he could stand if Nudo members want him to stand but however dismissed Kauandenge’s assertions that the party has lost direction. “Nudo works as a national political party should. I do not know how someone who had left the party and returned only yesterday can say that,” said Jahanika. “Nudo is not only an Ovaherero people’s party. It is open to everybody. Maybe he is the one that lost direction and not the party. Kauandenge speaks the words of [former MP Arnold] Tjihuiko who went to Swapo. If he wants to go, he must just go and not say the party has lost direction.”