13 December 2012

Namibia: Kaura to Quit Politics

Windhoek — President of the opposition DTA Katuutire Kaura says he is ready to quit politics and will not be contesting the national and presidential elections due in 2014, possibly to pave way for a younger, more energetic leader to take over the reins of the underachieving DTA.

"It is time for me to do other things. There is a time to come and a time to go. Everyone has to analyse him or herself and for me it is time to be a voter and let other people carry on," Kaura, who still has two years left to serve before his tenure lapses, told New Era in an exclusive interview yesterday.

From 1989 to 1998, Kaura was the vice-president of the DTA. After exiled and former DTA president Mishake Muyongo expressed support for the Caprivi secession in 1998, Muyongo was suspended forthwith from the DTA in August 1998, and Kaura became its president.

Prior to independence, Kaura was a member of the Constituent Assembly, which was in place from November 1989 to March 1990. He has served as a member of the National Assembly since independence in 1990 and he ran for the Namibian presidency in the 1999 and 2004 presidential elections, receiving 9.6 percent and 5.12 percent of the vote, respectively.

Kaura says he has secured some major achievements as DTA president in respect of issues of national interest. "I advocated for Grade 10 failures to be given a second chance. At the beginning, no one wanted to listen to me but later they did. Now the learners under the age of 16 years can repeat," he says. Kaura as president of the DTA in October 2003 tabled a motion requesting the write-off of all water debts incurred by impoverished communities who owe NamWater tens of millions of dollars. But after extensive debate in the same year, the majority of the members of the National Assembly voted against his motion.

Half a decade later in October 2008, McHenry Venaani, Secretary General of the DTA reintroduced the same motion and after comprehensive debate it was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Economics, Natural Resources and Public Administration.

John Mutorwa, the Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, had said in principle and in line with the applicable policies the government could not accept the recommendations as motivated by the standing committee.

"I felt it was imperative for Namwater to be abolished and be made a state function under the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry. I was voted down," he said.

"In 2008, Venaani brought it back but it died. This year Arnold Tjihuiko (Nudo MP) brought it back and it is accepted to look into the issues of water debts in Oshana, Ohangwena and Otjozondjupa," he revealed. At the end of November, Mutorwa announced that government had decided to subsidise water supply to the "very and genuinely poor".

Kaura in 2003 also tabled a motion that sought to have old age pensions increased from N$250 to N$550. "I advocated for the N$50 increase and it was done. It goes back to 1992. I continued to push for the old age pension to N$500, until it was approved last year," reminisced the veteran DTA politician.

He urged whoever will succeed him to "keep democracy alive". His term of office ends March 21, 2015.

The DTA Youth League has applauded Kaura for his boldness to step down and give others a chance.

Dr Andrew Niikondo, a political analyst and Vice-Rector at the Polytechnic of Namibia, commended Kaura's move to give up power come the 2014 elections, saying Namibians want change.

"That is what everyone wants to happen. Kaura's decision is commendable. Any president should rule by example by leaving power to younger ones. Venaani wanted to contest for president, but it was turned down. The youth were complaining of not getting a chance to rule. It is not a good example to be a president for life," Niikondo said.

He is optimistic that if Venaani becomes DTA president come 2014, the party will become stronger because the youth are interested in seeing a youth leader. The Executive Director of the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) and political commentator, Graham Hopwood, was more interested in what mechanisms the DTA will use to elect the next leader.

He said the DTA should have internal democratic elections to choose their leadership, as well as their presidential candidates in the manner of the ruling party. "I encourage DTA and all other political parties to follow similar processes as that of the Swapo Party congress in electing their leaders," he offered.

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