18 September 2012

Namibia: Politburo Meeting Postponed

THE Swapo Politburo meeting scheduled for yesterday to nominate a possible successor to President Hifikepunye Pohamba was postponed until today.

No reasons could be obtained why the meeting did not take place yesterday.

According to the rules and procedures of party office bearers, approved by Swapo's central committee, no position in its hierarchy will be filled by automatic promotion, acclamation or confirmation, unless one candidate is nominated for the position. In terms of the rules all positions are contested through elections by secret ballot, and this practice could only be amended by the upcoming congress.

Members of the Politburo must nominate and second a candidate and the nominees will, by way of voting, be eliminated until three candidates are left.

In terms of the rules the presidential nominees will then be allowed to campaign for the position of vice president of the party, since President Hifikepunye Pohamba will stay on in his position until March 20 2015.

It is an established tradition that the Politburo has the power to veto candidates. After the 2004 Swapo extraordinary congress, which later resulted in the formation of the Rally of Democracy and Progress under the leadership of Hidipo Hamutenya, who was one of the presidential contenders, the party reviewed the existing rules and procedures.

"This must be done without compromising the democratic character of the Swapo Party, one of the cherished principles of the Swapo Party since its formation on 19 April 1960," read the rules.

It is against this background that the central committee decided that "to preserve unity in the party", a candidate must be one of the most senior Swapo leaders to qualify for becoming the President of Namibia. These positions include the party's president, vice president, secretary general and deputy secretary general.

It means that the Swapo president automatically becomes a candidate for the presidency of Namibia. If the party president has already served two terms as President, the party's vice president automatically becomes a candidate.

Pohamba's second term ends on March 20 2015 and therefore the battle at this year's congress would be for the position of vice president.

As a rule, a minimum of three candidates are required to contest the top four positions and at least one of the candidates in each of the four posts should be a woman.

However, if only one candidate is endorsed in any of those positions on account of lack of interest, such candidate should be treated in the same manner as having been democratically elected.

"Such an approach would minimise Swapo Party infighting so close to the national elections, as was the case during the 2004 extraordinary congress. Therefore, the idea of three candidates outside the Swapo Party hierarchy promotes factionalism and indeed tribalism. This is not in the interest of the Swapo Party and must be done away with," read the rules.

The Politburo was expected to solely deal with the nomination yesterday but the meeting was postponed at the last minute.

Among the names expected to be entered for the vice presidency race are Hage Geingob, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, Nahas Angula and Jerry Ekandjo.

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