Pundits question integrity of Swapo top four candidates

BY MICHAEL UUGWAANGA

THE ruling SWAPO Party is scheduled to hold a Central Committee meeting this weekend which would see the last round of nominations for candidates vying for the Top Four positions, namely Party President, Vice-President, Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General.

Nominations this week at the Party’s political bureau meeting confirmed the running of two female candidates for the second most powerful position in the party, that of the Vice-Presidency.

Current Prime-Minister Saraa Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Deputy Prime Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah are confirmed as candidates while Frans Kapofi, Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs, is seen as a dark horse who may be nominated to contest against the two female candidates.

Confidente interviewed political analysts to gauge their views on the internal dynamics of the party, the integrity of confirmed candidates and the status quo of the party in the national body- politic.

The candidate that will emerge victorious at the elective congress at the end of the year will be the party’s presidential candidate at the 2024 national elections, to succeed the country’s incumbent president Dr Hage Geingob, whose term in office will come to an end on 21 March 2025.

Politics lecturer at the University of Namibia, Fanuel Kaapama, said the aspiring candidates are unique individuals with different character traits.

He said they all have their unique weaknesses and strengths. Ndaitwah (69) will be 72
come 2025, while Kuugongelwa- Amadhila (54) will be 57 in 2025.

“If you look back in history it was only president Sam Nujoma that was younger in the first election in 1989 and in the 1994 election, but the other Presidents, Hifikepunye Pohamba and Hage Geingob assumed office at the same age as Ndaitwah, so this will not really matter, even though young people might prefer a younger candidate,” Kaapama said.

Local political commentator, Hoze Riruako, said, it all depends on how the party handles the selection process to appoint the new vice-president.

“People might vote differently because of the current economic pressure and misuse of public funds. The 2024 election might be different, especially if one takes the youth perspective and them being a majority demographic into account. The glory days for Swapo are over because the dynamics of Team Swapo and Team Harames are still playing out,” Riruako noted.

On the issue of Swapo having a female candidate contest the election Riruako said, “Women do not necessarily vote for fellow women, Dr Itula (of the IPC) stands a credible chance against Fanuel Kaapama a female Swapo Presidential candidate.”

Political analyst, Ndumba Kamwanya, highlighted that the ruling party has lost a little bit of its ‘swagger’, which could result in other political parties receiving increased support at the polls.

The political parties that are expected to challenge the ruling party at the national election in 2024 are Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), led by Itula, The Landless People’s Movement (LPM), led by Bernadus Swaartbooi, The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), led by McHenry Venaani.

If the status-quo remains these parties will all field male candidates to contest the upcoming elections.

Kamwanya said, the two female candidates have been part and parcel of the failed Swapo- led government and it will be tough for any of them to emerge victorious at the presidential election if one of them becomes the party’s candidate.

“The likelihood that any Swapo Party candidate to win the 2024 national election exists, but for several reasons it is not going

to be a walk in the park like in previous elections,” he relayed. “Firstly, the brand Swapo is

damaged due to the over-hanging perception of corruption and a perceived lack of service delivery, the party therefore does not enjoy the same national appeal

as it did in the past. The party’s damaged reputation would embolden opposition political parties, especially the new ones,” Kamwanya added.

“We are witnessing the likes of IPC, LPM and social movements such as AR encroaching into
the Swapo party’s support-base,” Kamwanya further added.

Political scholar, Henning Melber, opined that having to choose between Ndaitwah and Kuugongelwa is like having to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea.

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