Politician Joseph Kauandenge, Nudo’s representative in the Windhoek City Council talks to New Era’s Chief Reporter for Politics, Elvis Muraranganda, about his betrayal by Nudo, and his position as Nudo city councillor for Windhoek.
New Era (NE): What is Joseph Kauandenge made out of?
Joseph Kauandenge (JK): “Joseph Kauandenge is one of the most misunderstood politicians in this country. He is a go-getter, a person passionate about alleviating the suffering of other people and very passionate about politics and the well-being of the citizenry in this country.”
NE: What are your specialties and expertise?
JK: “I am a politician and businessman because I own quite some various business interests in this country, and that is what I have been building all these years. And of course a jack of all trades, being a part-time musician, but then I also studied law. I went up to the B Juris degree – now I want my LLB. I am studying towards that through Unisa (University of South Africa).”
NE: What is the legacy you want to create and leave behind?
JK: “I want to leave a legacy of a person who was there, a person whose interests came second to the national interest and especially to that of the people I serve. A legacy of a young man who tried to change the status quo and to make sure that the most vulnerable of our society are taken care of. A people’s servant.”
NE: What is your take on the status of youth politics in the country?
JK: “It is deplorable. In the sense that when we started out in student movements or politics in the 19080s we were very young but maybe because of the atmosphere at the time we did so with the aim that the country should get independence at all costs. Once that was attained we continued to be active in party politics. Currently, I think our young people in terms of politics and their roles, they are not there. You cannot see them. Most of them are preoccupied with material gains, status, nice car, nice house and nice clothes. But all these things will vanish into thin air if there are no people to provide checks and balances on what goes on in the political arena. This is worrisome, because any revolution before was spearheaded by young people and they are the ones to spearhead any revolution. I think the current generation is busy betraying their own legacy because they are nowhere to be found in the boardrooms where decisions are taken to the benefit of the Namibian people.”
NE: How does the fighting among the elders in politics impact on youth politics?
JK: “If you as a young person do not have the intellect of not knowing what is happening, you will become a casualty. When two giants are fighting within parties, they always want the young people to fight on their behalf. They rope in young people and tell them to do certain things and in the process some of the young people become casualties.”
NE: What is your take on what is happening in Swapo and how the party is dealing with its youth wing?
JK: “I think what is happening in Swapo is long overdue in the sense that any youth league in any organisation should be a transmitting belt of ideologies. It is a question of the battle of ideas and ideologies – it is good for our democracy that finally young people within Swapo have started to speak out and differ with the older generation. It becomes worrisome when you see young people and the older generation agreeing on everything.”
NE: Do you foresee a similar situation happening in the opposition parties?
JK: “Not now, because when I look at the opposition parties’ youth wings currently, you will hardly single out anybody whom you will say, this person in the near future will become a serious politician. It is unfortunate that many of them are regarded as non-issues. They are there, they exist in name but hardly do you see them being empowered by the leadership of those parties to become vibrant. The only time you see them getting money or cars is when the leaders want to use them for their reelection.”
NE: What is your view of Asser Mbai’s presidency of Nudo?
JK: “So, far so good. He comes from the generation of the late Chief Kuaima Riruako. When the Chief passed I honestly believed that there was no other person within the structures who was more appropriate to take over from him than Mbai. But going forward from here, whether in the next elections Mbai is the right person will be for Nudo to decide.”
NE: When you and the late Chief Riruako pulled Nudo out of DTA did you foresee its current state?
JK: “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 as to what the reasons were for pulling Nudo out of DTA. There was reason to bring Nudo out of DTA 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.”
NE: Will you run for the Nudo presidency come 2018?
JK: “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 the position to revisit the past since I was there. 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.”
NE: Do you want to lead Nudo? Is that part of your ambitions?
JK: “It is not for me decide, it is for people to decide. I think my return to Nudo has something to do with the legacy of Chief Riruako. 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 on who betrayed me in 2004. I think he sees that and through his spirit I am back in Nudo.”
NE: What are your experiences at the Windhoek City Council?
JK: “My election, although delayed, it is served. It brings a feeling of having arrived, finally. It is a tough job. It is a busy job. People think that the term part-time applies but it does not. I came into a system that was not favouring the poorest of the poor. Where issues are discussed, put under the table and not interrogated very seriously especially when they affect the citizens of this country. My approach has been that of always speaking my mind, irrespective of who agrees or not.”
NE: Is there corruption at the City of Windhoek?
JK: “I will not say the City of Windhoek is corrupt but I will say that there might be some few individuals in the system that have come to know how to exploit it [the system] to their own advantage. Those loopholes need to be closed sooner or later.”
NE: Since you speak your mind about any wrong, would you say there are corrupt politicians within the council?
JK: “I would not say there are corrupt politicians but there are politicians who see things differently sometimes. They do things sometimes haphazardly to the detriment of our people in the city. But I will not say there are some corrupt politicians within the city council because I do not have proof.”
NE: What is your take on President Hage Geingob’s Harambee Prosperity Plan?
JK: “It is a waste of time. Really nice words without real meaning. To me it is nothing more than the NDP4 or other projects before it. Is it very vague.”