Windhoek-Home Affairs Minister Pendukeni Iivula–Ithana, who contested for the party’s vice-presidency in the just-ended Swapo elective congress, has saids her campaign group, dubbed ‘Team Swapo’, is henceforth disbanded, as it no longer serves any purpose.
Iivula-Ithana implored those who supported her bid for the vice-presidency to accept the outcome, saying she believed the voting process was free, fair and transparent.
Iivula-Ithana lost with 194 votes to Netumbo Nandi Ndaitwah, who scored 552 votes. Helmut Kangulohi Angula, who was in the same category only garnered 20 votes.
Iivula-Ithana and fellow team members spoke at the announcement of the congress results in early hours of Monday morning, saying they accepted the results and that the process was democratic, free and fair.
“I have accepted the results wholeheartedly and call upon those who supported my candidature to accept what I am saying here: that we now all belong to one team that is Swapo,” Iivula-Ithana said.
“Prior to this historic congress, we had our election campaign. Before I move on, I would like to tell this congress that Team Swapo is disbanded, because its purpose has come to an end. All of us are Swapo Party members and must continue to work for our party. I would like to congratulate the party president and your team for being elected,” she said.
The defeated group vowed to rally behind the victors and offered their support. This chimes with President Hage Geingob’s call last week at the opening of congress for members to support those candidates who emerge as winners in the inner-party election.
The now disbanded Team Swapo was led by seven candidates, namely Jerry Ekandjo and Nahas Angula who both vied for the Swapo party presidency. They both lost convincingly to Hage Geingob.
In the race for the position of party secretary general, Team Swapo member Armas Amukwiyu lost to Sophia Shaningwa, while for the position of Swapo Party deputy secretary general both Petrina Haingura and Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun lost out to Marco Hausiku.
Iivula Ithana said as the campaign has ended all Swapo party members should rally around he leadership and continue to work for the party.
In her special message to Nandi-Ndaitwah, who she said was her age mate, and participated alongside her in the liberation struggle, she said Nandi-Ndaitwah’s election had been her own achievement.
“I would like to assure you comrade Ndaitwah, that where you feel I have a contribution to make, don’t hesitate,” she said.
Amukwiyu added that the party’s victory is the party members’ victory. He told Shaningwa that he remains the Oshikoto regional party coordinator and she is his immediate supervisor and therefore pledged his support.
“The party leadership and structures in Oshikoto Region will march towards the support of your leadership,” Amukwiyu stated.
Nahas Angula, who also accepted the loss, said delegates spoke through their votes and their voice needed to be respected. “I am at your command, when you need my energy and intellectual capacity in order to make Namibia a place to live for all our people,” he said to Swapo president Geingob. Jerry Ekandjo said it was history in the making and that unlike in many other countries people came out more united than before.
“Everything has a beginning and an end. I am saying this, some of us have been leading the Namibian revolution for 21 years before independence and 27 years after independence, altogether 48 years, meaning that there will be a time when everything comes to the end and new generation will take over,” he said.
Helmut Angula said the delegates had spoken and they will abide by the democratic process. He jokingly said he might return to being a bishop and looking after his church.
Petrina Haingura said she was glad the party adhered to the 50/50 gender representation system. She added that there may be a next time to compete again.
Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun said in Swapo there are no losers or winners. Namundjebo-Tilahun, a prominent businesswoman, said she would dedicate her time to the party and support the Swapo leadership.
Local political analyst Dr Hoze Riruako said the country witnessed a great spectacle of political maturity and everybody this time around appreciated the fact that they had won or lost fairly and their action will not destroy the party. He said this was instrumental to the future of the party. Riruako noted that past congress elections saw the birth of opposition political parties, such as the Congress of Democrats (CoD) and Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), as the candidates were completely bruised and bitter.
“This time around I am seeing a different Swapo and it started before the counting of congress votes, were I saw both comrades from two teams kissing and hugging each other. Now that is one surprise we saw; things were different this time around.”
Riruako said this moment in the party’s history should be celebrated because for the first time both groups decided to do what is good for the party. He also brushed aside suggestions that those defeated may create their own political parties, saying age is not on the side of some candidates age: if they couldn’t win within the party, how can they win on their own?
“That is why it was a smart move to get together,” he said.