11 December 2012

Namibia: The Race Is Far From Over for Geingob's Supporters

DURING the early hours on Sunday the good heavens were witness to new Prime Minister Hage Geingob being anointed as the ruling party's presidential candidate for 2014.

While he and the rest of the ‘top four’ are sure of their seats in the next National Assembly, work has only started for those who supported him and might think that they’d arrived.

Some might say I am writing about an obvious issue here but I was surprised at the number of Swapo diehards, especially many of whom support Geingob, who think that the race is over and that those who have been elected to the Central Committee have one foot in the National Assembly. In fact those pencilled into Geingob’s team for the 2015-2020 term have nothing to celebrate since only hard work lies ahead of them.

To start off with, only Geingob, secretary general Nangolo Mbumba and deputy secretary general Laura McLeod-Katjirua are guaranteed the top three positions in the party’s next parliamentary list.

The remainder of the newly elected Central Committee members will be in the famous Swapo ‘pot’ from which the party’s represent- atives in the National Assembly will be elected during the 2014 electoral college. The ‘pot’ is imaginary but names of all parliamentary candidates are put on a list from which the delegates to the electoral college elect their candidates for the National Assembly.

The electoral college will, in all likelihood, be attended by the same delegates who attended the past weekend’s congress. That is if Swapo sticks to the rules it adopted during the previous congress and electoral college.

So you might wonder, what will change in such a scenario. Even though Geingob won with an outright majority or, as President Hifikepunye Pohamba put it at the end of the congress, ‘hit the target with the first bullet’, delegates can still be swayed. The past weekend bore testimony to this when some delegates changed their support at the last minute.

Normally, and this was also confirmed with the last con- gress, the Central Committee dominates the parliamentary list. Even though those who threw their weight behind Pohamba and Geingob made it to the top half of the CC list, there was no major change to the CC. Only few new faces came in. It means the CC votes in a block even though the candidates who stand for top four positions are in opposing camps.

Since the electoral college will not be electing other positions in the party, I can safely say that the CC will, once again, present itself as one block.

It means hard work starts for those in influential po- sitions to consolidate the support they received at the congress and even get more supporters.

As surely as amen follows a prayer, those who lost out at the last congress have already gone back to the drawing board to look at where they went wrong and will be hard at work to change things for the better. For them change is not a too distant reality. They have started working on it and even though Jerry Ekandjo’s reshuffle to the Ministry of Youth and Sport might be seen as a demotion, it could be a blessing in disguise as it will move him closer to the younger voting generation.

Now will not be a time for any Swapo member who has hopes to make it to the 2014 parliamentary list to engage in the thoughtless and self-destructive energy-sap- ping fights, which in the past, descended into making a mockery of the party.

Instead they need to hit the ground running by working the structures.

I see that the mantra for Geingob is ‘implementation, implementation and implementation’. It is a good starting block.

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