Windhoek — Schoolteacher Teopolina Mushelenga was sworn in yesterday to take the parliamentary seat left vacant by the demise three weeks ago of Dr Abraham Iyambo.
A trained teacher by profession, Mushelenga is also a seasoned politician. A Swapo Party member, Mushelenga was first elected to the National Assembly following the 1999 elections. She was subsequently re-elected in 2004.
Mushelenga was born on December 11, 1957. Before her new position, she was a teacher at the Andimba Toivo ya Toivo Primary School.
Donning a Swapo Party scarf she was sworn in by the Chief Justice Peter Shivute. She will however not be seated where Iyambo used to sit, instead Swapo Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba took over the late Iyambo's seat.
Mushelenga was welcomed with loud cheers by her erstwhile colleagues, after the official, but brief swearing-in ceremony. "This is my old position. I have been here before," she said jokingly. Mushelenga would like to see the upliftment of the women's parliamentary caucus.
"I understand it is no more functional. I would also like to be part of it. I would also like to advocate gender issues," said an enthusiastic Mushelenga.
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Theo Ben Gurirab tabled a motion unopposed on gender-based violence. Mushelenga said MPs must learn a lot from the motion to help address social evils perpetrated against women and children.
Mushelenga has been a member of the National Assembly representing Swapo Party since 2000. In the 1990s she served as the first mayor of Ondangwa. Mushelenga, who has several education and language qualifications from Namibia and the United Kingdom, started her teaching career at Oluno in 1980.
Two years later she fled into exile. In the Swapo settlement at Lubango in Angola she took up teaching again. Later she was transferred to the Kwanza-sul camp, where she taught Grade 2 learners and became an organiser for the Swapo Women's Council.
From 1986 to 1988 she studied in the United Kingdom, where she also participated in campaigns against the apartheid regime in Namibia. On her return to Angola in 1988, Mushelenga underwent six months of military training at the Tobias Hainyeko Military Training Centre in Lubango, where she also became the chairperson of the Swapo Women's Council branch.
She returned home in 1989 under the United Nations peace plan for Namibia. Seven years after going into exile, she resumed teaching at her former school in Oluno. In 1992 Mushelenga was elected as a councillor for Ondangwa and later she served as the vice-president of the Association of Local Authorities in Namibia (Alan).
Since joining the National Assembly as a backbencher in 2000, Mushelenga has played an active role in several parliamentary committees that scrutinise and debate proposed legislation and official reports.
Swapo Party MP Alexia Manombe-Ncube described the newly appointed deputy education minister as "dedicated, highly disciplined and a person one can rely on."