January 29, 2003

Discussion on fourth term

Six traditional leaders this week campaigned for President Sam Nujoma to run for a fourth term as Head of State. Herero and Mbanderu traditional leaders who are recognised by Government on Monday, January 27 supported an earlier call by some traditional leaders in the North.

"He is not yet physically weak. He is mentally well and capable to run the country for many years. This is why the traditional leaders felt the President must be re-elected for a fourth term," said Rudolph Hongoze, spokesman of the group which paid a courtesy call on Nujoma at State House in Windhoek. He spoke on behalf of the Kambazembi Royal House, Mbanderu Royal House, Vita Royal House, Maharero Royal House, Zereaua Royal House who all have legally recognised Chiefs and members of the Joint Chief Council. Hongoze said Nujoma (73) had initiated many projects that he needed to finalise before vacating office.

Nujoma's term of office ends next year. "Generally, his record speaks for itself. What he has done so far is why the chiefs felt he was needed for a next term. He liberated the country through UN Resolution 435 and brought Independence," Hongoze said.

When SWAPO amended the country's constitution in 1999 to allow President Nujoma to have a third term, ruling party leaders argued that Nujoma's reign between 1990 and 1995 did not fall under the constitutional limit of two five-year terms because he was not elected directly for the first five-year term. The amendment enabled Nujoma to stand for three terms as Namibia's founding President, but the Constitution said all future presidents would serve two terms only.

"Our position does not overrule the constitutional position. We understand the Constitution but it's the democratic right of the chiefs to feel that he (Nujoma) is the right person to still govern us. We can still demand for His Excellency to be re-elected," Hongoze said. Hongoze declined to comment on Nujoma's response to the traditional leaders' request.

Eight traditional authorities in the North last year called for a constitutional amendment last year saying they wanted Nujoma to rule for a fourth term to maintain peace and stability in the country. SWAPO insiders say the traditional leaders' calls were part of an orchestrated campaign to give the President another five-year term. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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