22. November 2017

SWAPO Congress ahead

THE much-anticipated sixth Swapo elective congress at which the party's new leadership will be elected kicks off in Windhoek tomorrow.

The congress, to be held under the theme 'Unity, inclusivity and prosperity', will be a gathering of over 770 delegates representing Swapo party structures from all 14 regions of the country.

Political commentators view this week's congress as the defining moment when the party will either unite again or fracture further as post-congress divisions widen.

Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba yesterday told the media that preparations were on track, and logistics finalised to transport and accommodate delegates for the duration of the congress.

Mbumba said election rules and procedures would only be announced to delegates at the congress, and the election method would also be decided at the congress by the candidates themselves. He added that lawyer Sisa Namandje had been appointed to preside over elections.

The party, however, still faced cases in the Windhoek High Court, filed by disgruntled party members from the Omaheke and Hardap regions concerning the nomination of delegates from those regions.

The aggrieved members are calling for the exclusion of delegates from their regions, arguing that there were several irregularities during regional conferences at which those delegates were nominated.

Omaheke's case will be heard in the Windhoek High Court today, and if the applicants win, delegates from that region will not participate at the congress.

Mbumba, however, said the congress would not be postponed because of those two regions “that are in the courts” because processes were already at an advanced stage.

“You have two regions out of 14. If they are blocked ... still, we have 12 remaining regions to conduct the congress,” Mbumba said.

The elective congress will see 11 senior Swapo leaders contesting for the top four leadership positions of the party.

President Hage Geingob, who is the sitting vice president of the party, will contest for the presidency of the party against youth minister Jerry Ekandjo and former Prime Minister Nahas Angula.

International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah will vie for the party's vice president position against home affairs minister Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Swapo information secretary Helmut Angula.

Urban development minister Sophia Shaningwa will lock horns with Oshikoto regional coordinator Armas Amukwiyu for the full-time job of party secretary general.

Former deputy prime minister Marco Hausiku will face businesswoman Martha Namundjembo-Tilahun and National Assembly member Petrina Haingura for the deputy secretary general position.

The congress will also elect new members to the party's central committee, which is the highest decision-making body between congresses.

The party has invited several political party representatives from several African countries, Europe, Russia and China to attend the congress as observers.

Mbumba said the congress would also deliberate on possible changes to the party's constitution, including the proposed introduction of minimum age requirements for members to stand for senior positions in the party, and the party's political ideology.

Other proposed changes to the party constitution include the expansion of the politburo and the central committee. These moves were jointly approved by the central committee and the politburo. (The Namibian, Windhoek)


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