30 November 2012

Namibia: Utoni to Step Down If Elected As SG

FOREIGN Affairs Minister Utoni Nujoma, who is one of the candidates running for the position of Swapo secretary general, says he will vacate his ministerial post if he is elected as SG at the Swapo congress which started yesterday.

Nujoma told The Namibian on the sidelines of the congress held at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek that he would go along with the party decision to fill the secretary general’s position on a full-time basis.

The Swapo congress, the party’s highest decision-making body, is expected to endorse the implementation of the resolution for a full-time position, as opposed to the current arrangement where the SG can also hold a ministerial position.

“Definitely. We are all children of the party. I won’t have any contradiction to the decision,” Nujoma said.

“Who am I to dispute the decisions [of the congress]. We are all directed by the party,” Nujoma added.

Incumbent deputy secretary general Nangolo Mbumba, who is also the safety and security minister, is also in the running for the position.

Mbumba last month said he was ready to serve full-time as secretary general position if elected and would relinquish his ministerial portfolio.

Outgoing Swapo secretary general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana said in September this year that research had been done on what was needed to be in place before the secretary general of the party could serve on a full-time basis, adding that a decision in this regard would be made at this year’s congress.

If the resolution comes into effect, either Mbumba or Nujoma junior will have to vacate their Cabinet positions, leaving a vacancy at the Ministry of Safety and Security or Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Both Mbumba and Nujoma were nominated by candidates who are contesting the party’s vice presidency.

Mbumba was nominated by Hage Geingob and Nujoma by Jerry Ekandjo.

The secretary general is one of the most powerful positions in the party and it would give the winner the opportunity to gain political influence and work himself up to the top seat in the party.

According to new rules and procedures adopted by the Swapo Central Committee this year, if the vice president of the party is not available to stand for election as state president, then the secretary general is the next automatic choice.

Swapo decided in 2002 already, when President Hifikepunye Pohamba was still the SG, that the position should be full-time. The 2007 congress subsequently reiterated it.

People who have served as Swapo secretary general in the past included the late Moses //Garoëb, Pohamba and Ngarikutuke Tjiriange.

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