… As party elders endorse him, while Ngurare suffers humiliation in Kavango West
By Elvis Muraranganda
AFTER months of his foes boasting about his demise, President Hage Geingob and his supporters, known as Team Hage, have finally gained momentum ahead of the November Swapo Congress, after the party elders endorsed him as their sole presidential candidate and one of his biggest detractors, Elijah Ngurare, was humiliated at the ruling party’s Kavango West regional conference.
Also recently, the party’s Otjozondjupa regional coordinator, Susan Hikopua, publicly announced that she has thrown her weight behind Geingob ahead of the congress, squashing claims that she is working against the president.
The Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) Central Committee has also endorsed Geingob for the party presidency, while saying that he should not be opposed at the congress.
This past weekend’s endorsement of Geingob by the Swapo Party Elders Council (SPEC) as their sole candidacy for the Swapo presidency came as Ngurare only managed to secure one vote at the party’s Kavango West regional conference, and will not be going to the Swapo Congress.
Ngurare and Job Amupanda, among other so-called youth linked to the Affirmative Repositioning movement, have been vocal detractors of president, who have been running a vicious social media campaign against him.
A total of 776 voting delegates will decide the fate of the party and the country at the November Swapo Congress, which includes 84 Central Committee members, 10 delegates each elected at regional conferences and 484 delegates elected from the party’s 121 political districts across the country.
The SPYL and the SPEC will send 16 delegates each to the congress, while the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) will send 20 women.
Another 16 delegates will come from the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW), which is a Swapo affiliate.
A further non-voting 50 delegates will be invited, who will be able to fully participate in the congress deliberations.
The many district and regional conferences that have been conducted so far have been clouded by political backbiting, as well as bribery and tribalism allegations.
There have also been allegations that the party’s constitution has been violated by those opposed to Geingob, which has led to the Swapo head office dispatching investigation teams to the regions.
So far, the Hardap, //Karas, Kavango West, Kunene, Khomas, Omaheke, Ohangwena, Oshana and Otjozondjupa have concluded their regional conferences.
It emerged that Kunene which was iniatialy apprently not on the Geingob wagon, is now aligned to Team Hage.
Out of the five remaining regions, Team Hage is expected to face a tough battle in Oshikoto, which is a stronghold of Armas Amukwiyu, Geingob’s former friend-turned-foe, who publicly announced his allegiance and friendship with Ngurare.
It is believed that the initial strategy of Geingob’s detractors was to turn him into a lame duck Head of State, by not opposing him his presidential candidacy at the Swapo Congress, while attempting to secure all the other top three posts of vice-president secretary-general and deputy secretary, while positioning themselves to take over the Central Committee and Politburo.
From the second centre of power, outside government, they wanted to strong-arm him and make his life difficult after congress, while their vice-president candidate emerges as the next president, after Geingob serves his two terms.
No other credible candidate
Graham Hopwood of the Institute for Public Policy Research believes that the most likely scenario is that Geingob will be affirmed as Swapo president at the congress.
“It would seem counterproductive for Swapo to try to unseat a president, who won an overwhelming mandate in the presidential election in 2014. Hopwood said.
“While there is an anti-Geingob alliance within the party they do not appear to have a credible candidate to put up against Geingob for the presidency of the party.
“It seems more likely they will put forward candidates for the other top positions and seek to gain control of the Swapo Central Committee,” he said.
Another political analyst, Henning Melber, questioned whether those engaging in infighting know who is on whose side and what interests are actually being pursued.
“I think it is far too early to write off Geingob and team Hage. He might have made some strategic mistakes and unnecessary enemies, while dishing out favours to the wrong ones. But so far, the Swapo electoral congress have very much stressed continuity,” Melber explained.
“But admittedly, the infighting on a district and regional level has seemingly gained a new aggressive dimension, which until now has been largely unknown.
“This might be an indication that a lot is at stake and that the factions are… keen to secure advantages. But here again, we know from the past that alliances might change during the process.”
Analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah is of the opinion that it is difficult to gauge the current playing field, mainly because much of what is happening in the party centres around personal vendettas.
“Issues of personal fallouts between or among the comrades is what is dominating the discourse in the party,” Kamwanyah.
“It appears [there is this plot against Geingob] but I doubt that it will succeed… What we are seeing playing out is merely personal politics. There is no strategy here, but only few individuals feuding against each other,” he said.
“The kingmakers are the silent majority in the party. They are quiet and are not saying anything at this moment, for a good reason, because they will be the dealmakers, in terms of who will be elected or not.”
According to Kamwanyah the prevailing camps in the party are nothing but trouble for Geingob.
“I think he should not allow himself to be part of these camps. He should be above the fray, as they say. In that way he can serve as the trusted elder, whom those that have grievances can go to for advice. At the moment he is seen siding with one camp, then it is trouble for him, his presidency and the party.”
Political commentator Hoze Riruako explained that there are people who are anti-Geingob, but this is not a sign of them rejecting him.
“This is a sign that democracy is growing in Namibia.
In fact, it has grown to such an extent that people are now exercising their rights to freedom of speech and association, as well as of expression,” noted Riruako.
“This is not a message that they despise him (Geingob), because people in a democracy speak freely. Mature governance does not influence public opinion. This is a sign of growth.”
“There is nothing you can pinpoint that Geingob did wrong since taking office for anyone to judge him on, and believe that he needs to be replaced, because he failed.
“What we are seeing now is the preparatory stage, as it has been requested by the party’s secretary-general for all district and regional conferences to be concluded by 30 July. What you see happening in Swapo is the workings of the party’s constitution and election rules and regulations.”
Riruako said people are basing and benchmarking all these processes on the party’s constitution and election rules, and it is for this reason why Geingob’s campaign is gaining momentum.
“Delegates also do not want to break the party’s tradition for its president to run for two consecutive terms as Head of State.”
One of Otjozondjupa regional nominees to the Swapo Central Committee, and a staunch Geingob supporter, Tobie Aupindi, said the Head of State has a crucial role to play in who gets elected at congress.
“As the Swapo president, he is expected to guide the congress on those he prefers for the positions below the presidency,” explained Aupindi.
“It is a convention and the president must guide congress on those he would want to implement his vision with.”
“Geingob is the president of Swapo and will continue being the president of Swapo, come November,” Aupindi said.
He is adamant that Geingob and his supporters will emerge victorious and continue with his vision to deliver “much-needed economic emancipation and equal opportunities for all Namibians”.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015