Victorious Geingob strikes reconciliatory tone

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Selma Ikela

Windhoek-Swapo’s newly-elected president, Dr Hage Geingob, vowed to serve all Namibians and unite all members of the ruling party following emotionally-charged campaigns for positions at the just-ended 6th congress.
Geingob inherits a fractured party, still haunted by divisions of the 2012 congress that saw him being elected party vice-president. He has been in charge of Swapo since 2015 in an interim capacity after then president Hifikepunye Pohamba resigned as party president.

It was during Geingob’s interim presidency that four youth leaders were expelled from the party, before the Windhoek High Court ordered their reinstatement.

But yesterday morning he struck a reconciliatory tone with his rivals, saying there were no losers at congress because Swapo as a party was the only victor for its solid democracy and diversity.

Geingob made the remarks yesterday morning as the results for the Swapo congress were announced for the coveted top-four Swapo leadership positions, as well as for the Central Committee.

Geingob, who faced Jerry Ekandjo and Nahas Angula for the party presidency, emerged winner. By virtue of his victory, Geingob becomes the party’s automatic candidate for the 2019 national presidential election.

Current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, won the vice-president position, after seeing off the advances of Home Affairs Minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and former director-general of the National Planning Commission Helmut Angula.

Minister of Urban and Rural Development Sophia Shaningwa is the incoming secretary-general, having triumphed against youthful challenger Armas Amukwiyu. Shaningwa is deputised by party veteran Marco Hausiku, who won against rivals Petrina Haingura and revered businesswoman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun.

With Shaningwa to take up the secretary-general’s position on a full-time basis, President Geingob is expected to name a new minister of urban and rural development.

There is also a strong expectation that the President might announce a broader cabinet reshuffle – although his reconciliatory note yesterday somewhat suggested he might not discard those who challenged him and his slate.
Campaigns leading to the congress were marred by vulgarities, insults and personal attacks by two competing camps, christened Team Harambee and Team Swapo.

“It is inevitable that those who have contested and not achieved the desired results, might have feelings of disappointment. This is natural because every team that plays in the final believes it can win. That is why my primary objective following this congress will be to unite the party,” stated Geingob.

Geingob said it is also not about stating who won or lost as there are no losers in Swapo, as no one is bigger than the party. “Today is not about saying that this individual has won or that individual has lost. It is not about saying that this team has won or that team has lost. There are no losers in Swapo. Today, Swapo has won. No matter what the crisis, Swapo will always emerge victorious.”

In his speech Geingob outlined the roadmap to deliver the 2014 Swapo manifesto whereby he will fight against hunger, poverty, income inequality and corruption. He vowed to improve education, healthcare, land servicing, housing and sanitation.

The President – whose win means the country remains under one centre of power – also plans to pursue economic, business, job creation and infrastructure development, amongst others.

“To fund our development, new innovative financing models, as opposed to taking up expensive loans, will be prioritised. Starting with central government, there are a lot of ‘dead assets’ that could be put to better use to finance our development,” he said about his roadmap towards economic and business creation.

Geingob said he is ready, through consultations at the Central Committee and Politburo, to strengthen party administration by appointing a full-time administration, attached at the level of a permanent secretary in competency and compensation.

The President is also ready to discuss the proposal that the party secretary-general l be granted two executive assistants to assist with and improve office management.

There are also proposals to revamp the Swapo Party headquarters, to renovate the current old structures and to provide office space for serving and former presidents.

Amongst others, proposals are also to support the party’s musical band Ndilimani Cultural Troupe, by providing decent remuneration and housing to its members.

There are also suggestions to provide a group healthcare scheme for people working for the party and proper medical treatment for Swapo fighters.

It is also proposed that proper accounting practices and auditing of party companies be conducted.

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