Windhoek-A rematch between Namibian President Hage Geingob and Youth Minister Jerry Ekandjo for the top position in the Swapo Party was confirmed yesterday when the former was formally nominated and the latter confirmed he will be nominated for the same post at a central committee meeting scheduled for Sunday.
The two Swapo veterans battled it out for the Swapo vice-presidency at the last elective in 2012.
This time they are vying for the party’s presidency, left vacant by former president Hifikepunye Pohamba after he abruptly resigned from the post in mid-2015.
Geingob won the Swapo vice-presidency in 2012, a result that helped him ascend to the Namibian presidency two years later.
Of particular interest in this position, as was the case for the vice-presidency five years ago, is that the winner will in all likelihood be the ruling party’s candidate for the national presidency during the 2019 general elections.
Swapo confirmed in a statement issued late yesterday that in full view of former presidents Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba , Geingob was formally nominated for the party presidency. Ekandjo also informed the house that he will be nominated for the same position at the upcoming central committee meeting.
There were no further indications of interest in the position by anyone else, despite reports this week that former prime minister Nahas Angula also intended to run for the post of party president.
Geingob, at a politburo meeting last Friday, indicated that he wished to work with ministers Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and Sophia Shaningwa as Swapo vice-president and secretary-general, respectively, in a bid to have them elected to such positions at congress. The president also said last week that he wished to work with Marco Hausiku, a former deputy prime minister, as deputy secretary-general of the party.
The president’s wish was granted yesterday when Swapo secretary-general Nangolo Mbumba nominated him for the party presidency, while Mbumba’s deputy, Laura McLeod-Katjirua, nominated Nandi-Ndaitwah for the vice-presidency.
Justice Minister Albert Kawana nominated Shaningwa for secretary-general and the nation’s vice-president, Dr Nickey Iyambo, completed Geingob’s wishlist by nominating Hausiku as candidate for deputy secretary-general.
Swapo’s press statement yesterday confirmed that Helmut Angula, a businessman who previously served as cabinet minister and director-general of the National Planning Commission, indicated he will be nominated on Sunday for the vice-presidency of the party.
Home Affairs Minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, a former Swapo secretary-general, also indicated she will be nominated this weekend for the party’s vice-presidency.
It is expected that more nominations for the top-four positions may emerge on Sunday, thus increasing the number of candidates and making the contest at congress even tighter.
According to the Swapo constitution, as amended at the 2013 extraordinary congress held in Swakopmund, each position can be contested by a maximum four candidates.
The principle of this provision is to allow gender balance by ideally having two males and two females contesting for the same position.
Where more than four candidates are vying for the same position, the central committee would hold an election to trim the number of candidates to four. The zebra-style principle, where men and women are mixed in equal proportion on lists for party positions, does not apply strictly to the top-four positions.
This means, for instance, that two consecutive positions in the top-four could be occupied by candidates of the same sex.
Geingob yesterday echoed the remarks he made last Friday to the effect that all qualified party members were welcome to contest for positions in the party, saying the party constitution allows it.
According to the press release, Geingob reiterated that “Swapo Party is proud to be a democratic organisation and thus everyone should be able to contest for any position in the party, as provided for by the constitution and rules and procedures of the party.”