13 December 2012

Namibia: Exiles Continue to Dominate Politburo

THE new Swapo Politburo elected on Tuesday is dominated by party leaders who returned from exile.

Ten of the 17 members elected to the Politburo are leaders who were in the exiled leadership of the party and have continued to be in leadership positions since Independence.

Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba said the new Politburo elected on Tuesday is a mix of different generations of the Swapo leadership.

The new executive, although mostly consisting of the second generation of the founding group of Swapo known as the ‘Tanga group’, is a mix, he insisted.

The ‘Tanga Group’ refers to the Swapo leaders who went into exile in the 1960s and attended the party’s first congress in Tanzania.

Mbumba told The Namibian yesterday that there is a misunderstanding that the Tanga Group is everybody who went into exile to liberate the country.

According to Mbumba, the influential category of President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Founding President Sam Nujoma, who are referred to as the “group of ‘60s” are bowing out and the ‘70s group is taking over.

Such leaders, Mbumba said, include Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Nandi-Ndaitwah who were elected to the Politburo on Tuesday.

But concern has been raised that young leaders have again made way for the 70s group who were essentially schooled in the leadership traditions of the ‘Tanga Group’.

But Mbumba said the Politburo also has leaders who made massive contributions even though they were not part of the ‘Tanga Group’. He mentioned Ben Amadhila and Libertina Amathila, former prime ministers Nahas Angula and Theo Ben Gurirab as examples.

Both Prime Minister Hage Geingob and Angula were studying at the time of the first congress in Tanzania and did not personally attend but are lumped together with that generation.

“Even the group at home was important, and they are in the current Politburo. Overall, I’m happy with the new Politburo, it has a combination of the newcomers and old-timers,” he said.

The observation about Tanga dominance in the Politburo was made after three young politicians failed to secure seats in the Politburo on Tuesday.

Mbumba had words of encouragement for the likes of Abraham Iyambo and Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, who were removed from the Politburo.

“They are still in the Central Committee, that means they are still in leadership positions. It’s not the last election. The future is theirs,” Mbumba said.

Iyambo, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Utoni Nujoma all failed to secure places in the Politburo and were replaced by the much more senior Local Government and Housing Minister Charles Namoloh, Foreign Affairs Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and Veterans’ Affairs Minister Nickey Iyambo.

The surprise new entrant into the Politburo is the young governor of the Hardap Region, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa.

Another new addition was John Mutorwa, a long-serving minister in the Swapo government.

All five new faces in the Politburo had pledged public support to vice president Hage Geingob during his campaign for re-election.

They join Youth Minister Jerry Ekandjo, Deputy Prime Minister Marco Hausiku and Asser Kapere as homegrown Swapo leaders.

Former Politburo member Helmut Angula, who earlier this year advocated for the next president to still come from the ‘Tanga Group’, said the time would come for young blood to be infused into the top leadership.

“It’s the last ten years for the group. You won’t see them again after that,” said Angula.

Political analyst Phanuel Kaapama said the original ‘Tanga Group’ has less than ten years left, adding that they are an “endangered species”.

“Age is not on their side. Being reduced to seven in a Politburo of 21 is a sign that time is catching up on them,” he said.

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