“I URGE you all to go out and campaign for this candidate. If you vote for me, you will not only have made Swapo proud for nominating a credible candidate, you will have made Namibia proud for voting a female candidate.”
With these words, Swapo secretary general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, one of the candidates contesting the Swapo Party vice presidency, yesterday launched her primary election campaign in Windhoek.
Among those attending the event were the leadership of the Swapo Women's Council, Iivula-Ithana’s son Ndeutapo Kaulinge, Omusati regional coordinator Erick Endjala, and the former secretary of the Swapo Party Elders’ Council, Kanana Hishoono.
Iivula-Ithana is contesting the vice presidency against incumbent Hage Geingob and Regional and Local Government Minister Jerry Ekandjo.
Whoever emerges victorious from this race at the Swapo Party congress in two weeks’ time is likely to become Namibia’s next President.
Iivula-Ithana, who is the country’s Justice Minister, said her vision and road map for the country would embrace guaranteed gender equality and protection of women, children, minority and other vulnerable groups from all forms of abuse and social ills including passion killings.
Iivula-Ithana’s statement comes a few days after the death of 20-year-old Melanie Booysen, whose her boyfriend allegedly slit her throat with a broken glass. In the same week, a baby was found abandoned at a construction site in Dorado Park, bringing to 10 the number of baby dumping cases reported in Windhoek since January this year.
Iivula-Ithana said she would also direct her attention to the safety of all Namibians, state security and protection of Namibia’s economic and cultural resources, including social and economic justice through sustained and prudent economic management and group.
“Total empowerment of the youth, women and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through skills development, job creation and support to entrepreneurs. Rural development through the provision of quality education, health services, housing and sanitation as well as economic and job opportunities for people living in rural areas,” she said.
She said she would also ensure good governance for a democratic, prosperous and peaceful Namibia, as well as solid unity of common purpose within the party and among all Namibian people, irrespective of their race, religion, sex or ethnic origin.
Drawing attention to what she termed her “political, academic and leadership achievements” which include liberation struggle credentials that have seen her serving within the Swapo Party for 32 years, Iivula-Ithana said one of the most outstanding features of her career is her role as the Party’s secretary general, a role she has held since 2007.
“So my election into the position of secretary general was thus purely based on merit and my credentials and was not motivated by the fact that I was a woman but rather my ability to deliver,” she said.
In an interview with The Namibian, political analyst Joseph Diescho said Iivula-Ithana’s best quality is that she is a woman.
According to him, she is a strong person but her leadership style and how she operates convey fear to other people.
“It would be difficult for her to accumulate trust and she appears to be intolerant. What would count in her favour is that she is a woman and an Oshiwambo,” Diescho said.
Nevertheless, Ithana yesterday also urged her colleagues in the race during this time and after congress to maintain the spirit of unity and democracy.
“Our campaign activities should avoid defamation and character assassination of individuals involved in the race. Let the tenets of democracy be the guiding principles of our primary election campaigns,” she said.