New Era (Windhoek)

24 June 2013

Namibia: Swapo Congress Endorse 50/50 Representation

Swakopmund — The Swapo Party's Extra Ordinary Congress that took place over the weekend amended the party constitution to bring about the 50/50 representation of men and women in the party's organs and structures.

For the first time ever the party also introduced mechanisms to strengthen the party through the establishment of a disciplinary committee and its composition. President Hifikepunye Pohamba said the provision is "a significant and commendable step," which "heralds the long aspired to objective of introducing 50/50 men and women representation in all party organs and structures." The amendments to the party's constitution are the first, since the country became independent.

About 500 party members converged on the coastal town of Swakopmund in the Erongo Region to attend the Swapo Party's Extra-ordinary Congress aimed at discussing and adopting amendments to the party's constitution. This new provision according to party members is a progressive step and heralds the party's long awaited objectives to bring about equal representation of men and women in all the party organs and structures and to deal with challenges the party is currently facing.

The decision created a jubilant mood among women, while male congress delegates felt that it was too soon for the party to balance the representation at fifty-fifty instead of a gradual (30 percent) application until the balance is struck. The congress decision literally means that 50 percent of the top four in the leadership should be women, and that also goes for elections to the Central Committee and other organs of the party through a zebra style election system.

Speaking at the closing of the congress, Pohamba said Namibian women have made significant sacrifices during the struggle for independence, freedom and social justice. "The time has come for women to take their rightful place in the party structures and leadership so that they can contribute meaningfully to the development of the country," Pohamba said.

The extra-ordinary congress started on Friday afternoon and concluded yesterday morning with a meeting by the Swapo Party Central Committee at the Swapo Party regional office in Swakopmund. The congress itself took place at the Swakopmund camping site at Mile 4. The main purpose of the gathering was to effect amendments to the Swapo Party constitution as part of the party's commitment to ensure that the founding document remains dynamic and responsive to evolving social and political issues.

President Pohamba said the new amendments would bring about a momentum for effective operation and management of party affairs. "In the same vein the amendments will strengthen regional structures and effective mechanisms for the deployment of the Swapo Party cadres to the government at national, regional and local authorities," Pohamba said.

Pohamba also explained that the amended constitution would now also strengthen the secretariat through the provision of new departments that would deal with the current challenges the party is facing. This includes a department of food security, amongst others.

He also vowed that the party would implement all amendments. "The party has once again demonstrated the necessary maturity and resolved to conduct its affairs in the spirit of comradeship, unity and above all, commitment to the party and country during the congress. Namibia has gained. The Swapo Party has emerged united and strong to fulfill the governance mandate and the leadership entrusted upon it by the Namibian electorate," he said.

The extra-ordinary congress has, for the first time, also introduced mechanisms to strengthen the party through the establishment of a disciplinary committee.

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