18 January 2013

Namibia: I Will Fix Opposition Politics - Venaani

YOUNG, ambitious, outspoken DTA secretary general McHenry Venaani says he will stand as the party's presidential candidate to revitalise its parliamentary presence that has considerably dwindled over the years, and to "fix" fragmented opposition politics.

"The party is at a crossroads. Its political support has diminished. It needs fresh blood and I have the energy to attract more people. As a young person I will bring a new dimension to African politics where the average age of political leaders is in the 70s," said the 35-year-old Venaani.

Current DTA president Katuutire Kaura earlier this year said he would not stand for the position again, which opens the way for Venaani, arguably the most popular young leader of the party, to again contest the presidential position as he did in 2005 when he lost to Kaura.

Venaani yesterday said as a presidential candidate he offers a lot of experience to the party. Venaani was a 'young pioneer' of the party since the age of seven, and by 18, he joined the leadership ranks of the DTA.

He was a DTA Member of Parliament from 2003 until 2009, but did not make it back into Parliament after the 2009 general elections since the DTA clinched only two seats.

The party had 21 parliamentary seats at independence, but has not been able to resurrect itself as the official opposition, securing only four seats in the 2004 general election.

Venaani said he would also like to bring about closer collaboration among opposition parties to address the imbalance of power in which the ruling Swapo Party is dominating other parties with its two-thirds majority in Parliament.

"I will fix opposition politics in Namibia. Opposition parties are too fragmented. We should not allow our differences to fragment the country. At the moment the opposition is not keeping the government accountable. Opposition politicians are not working hard enough. If I become the president [of the DTA] I will create an interest in politics. My role is to fix a system of broken opposition politics," he said.

Venaani said he would also like to revitalise the leadership of the DTA by bringing in people who have the interests of the country at heart, adding that he would like to see more women entering the structures of the party.

"I believe in inclusiveness. Women are the largest voting block in the country but women have thus far been left behind because the party is underperforming. We must create the necessary parliamentary seats for women to play a role."

Women constitute over 40% of the party's representation in local authority structures.

The DTA's executive committee will meet in February to set a date for the party's congress that has to take place this year.

Its new leadership will be elected from nominated candidates; while wings and regions may nominate their candidates beforehand, nominations can also be made from the floor at the congress.

"It will be an open process. We would want to run an election as democratically as possible," Venaani said.

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