Swapo leader President Hage Geingob says he is prepared to work with and guide whoever emerges victorious at this weekend’s congress.
“I don’t care who will win. I will welcome them,” Geingob said during the opening of the last central committee (CC) meeting on Monday, seemingly reaffirming his position not to endorse any of the three candidates.
On face value, it appears, Geingob has faith in the three VP contestants.
However, his move not to endorse current VP Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah sent shockwaves through the ruling party, as it is seen as veering away from Swapo’s long-held tradition where sitting presidents anoint their deputies.
“Today, it is collectively accepted within the party that based on the established precedent over the years, there will always be democratic contestation for leadership positions in Swapo. But such contestation must be in a healthy manner that will result in a stronger, more resilient Swapo, and not a divided Swapo,” the Presidency said in September, defending Geingob’s decision.
In the past, Geingob’s predecessors, Founding President Sam Nujoma and former President Hifikepunye Pohamba all threw their weight behind their deputies. This time around, incumbent, Nandi-Ndaitwah will defend her turf against Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and environment minister Pohamba Shifeta, without her superior’s blessings.
Her camp, however, sees this as a blessing in disguise.
“The endorsement [by the president] is a formality. We got a strong endorsement from the delegates, and by extension, the people of Namibia,” diplomat Kaire Mbuende, the face of Nandi-Ndaitwah’s campaign said recently.
In fact, Nandi-Ndaitwah’s non-endorsement, earned her more sympathy, as some delegates felt she was unfairly treated, unlike her predecessors who always had their superior’s blessing to ride on.
Furthermore, the Swapo leader
described the looming congress as impactful and decisive.
It is so because for the first time, Swapo could be on the verge of fielding a female presidential candidate at the next general elections, a young female or youthful male candidate with no liberation struggle credentials.
“It will be historic; in any way you look at it. Because the ‘old guard’, will give the way, either to middle level or a new level. You have a woman who can maybe come up to be a state president, or a younger person than us [male], who was never in exile, history again,” he told the CC.
Geingob also hit back at his critics, who he said are confused.
It is held by certain quarters that Geingob is “too weak” to influence the outcome of this year’s congress.
“Apparently, I am ‘weak’. And they don’t say anything [about] how weak I am. Apparently, I am a ‘dictator’. Decide what I am, either a dictator or I am weak. That shows people are confused. They were hoping Swapo is falling apart,” Geingob said.