Windhoek-Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba yesterday explained that the principle of 50/50 gender balance applies to the party’s top four positions, but not in any particular order.
Swapo is likely to hold its elective congress in November this year, but Mbumba was non-committal when asked if he would stand for re-election.
It is thought by many that if a man emerges as party president from congress the party’s vice-presidency automatically goes to a woman. If this order is followed, it would also have meant that the secretary-general’s position would automatically be occupied by a man and a woman would take the deputy secretary-general’s position.
Swapo adopted the zebra style representation in its structures after amending its constitution at an extraordinary congress held at Swakopmund in 2013. The zebra principle was applied at the Swapo electoral college, where the party’s candidates for parliamentary seats were elected prior to the 2014 National Assembly elections.
Mbumba says the Swapo constitution does not compel the party to apply the zebra style in the top four party positions. Prior to former President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s resignation as Swapo president in April 2015, the party’s top four only featured one woman – incumbent deputy secretary-general Laura McLeod-Katjirua.
“We could have the president and vice-president, or secretary-general and deputy secretary-general, from the same gender. There is no particular order in the top four,” Mbumba said in response to a New Era question during a press conference Tuesday. “That’s the official position, not my own rules.”
Mbumba refused to confirm whether he would stand for re-election. He said all party positions would become vacant going into congress.