The Namibian (Windhoek)

12 December 2012

Namibia: The Rise and Fall of the Mighty in Swapo

THE vice president of Swapo and the party’s presidential candidate for the 2014 presidential election, Hage Geingob, has made a slow comeback to the Swapo hierarchy following his near political demise in 2002.

After his fallout with then President Sam Nujoma in 2002, Geingob was stripped of his position as prime minister and offered the Ministry of Regional and Local Government portfolio, but turned it down.

This triggered a host of political misfortunes for Geingob and saw him sliding down the popularity ranking in the party, sending him into the political wilderness.

But, 10 years later, the man who was second in charge at independence has come back and is almost certain to become the country’s next president, as the majority party’s presidential candidate.

In 2002, he lost his seat on the party’s Politburo, although he remained a member of the central committee.

He could only garner 33 votes at the Central Committee, three votes short of making it into the 17-member organ of the ruling party.

The Politburo serves as the executive of the party between Central Committee meetings.

In 2002 it was Hidipo Hamutenya who was the victor.

But in 2004 Hamutenya crossed swords with Nujoma and the same fate befell him as did Geingob, when he challenged Nujoma’s preferred candidate, Pohamba, for the party’s presidential candidature.

Hamutenya’s fallout dealt a blow to Hamutenya’s political ambitions in the party.

Hamutenya has since left Swapo and formed his own political party, Rally for Democracy and Progress.

Such is the popularity yo-yo in Swapo that no leader, except the president of Swapo, is assured of a permanent leadership position.

Once you fall out of favour with the party president, you are almost certain of banishment from the structures of Swapo, as GeingobÂ’s and Hamutenya’s experience tells.

Geingob’s comeback started at the Swapo congress in 2007, where he was elected as the party vice president.

Other prominent Swapo leaders who were voted out of the Politburo after the 2007 congress was Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who lost her information portfolio to Jerry Ekandjo. Instead of her information secretary position, Nandi-Ndaitwah challenged Richard Kamwi to the health secretary portfolio, but failed to secure it.

Nickey Iyambo also did not make it back into the Politburo.

Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana also had her share of political misfortunes after the 2002 congress, but made it back at the 2007 congress together with Geingob. She was elected secretary general, a position she lost after she vied and lost the party vice presidency position.

Since 2007 Nahas Angula, now the defence minister, has consistently scored the highest votes in Central Committee and Politburo elections followed by the likes of Jerry Ekandjo, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Marco Hausiku and Abraham Iyambo.

Angula is believed to have entered into a deal with President Hifikepunye Pohamba when the contest for the party’s presidential candidate at the 2004 extraordinary congress had to go to a second round.

Angula was in the running together with Pohamba and Hamutenya, but was eliminated in the first round. He was subsequently appointed as prime minister by President Pohamba, until the reshuffle last week.

Geingob’s political fortunes have been aligned to those of President Pohamba, who clearly expressed his faith in his vice president, saying he did not find anything wrong with him and therefore would support his re-election in the position.

Pohamba used his influence in the party and campaigned, although not publicly, for Geingob.

After securing the re-election and now in the running for the country’s presidency, Geingob made a comeback to the Office of the Prime Minister, which he established at independence, in last weeks Cabinet reshuffle.

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