Windhoek — Swapo Secretary-General Sophia Shaningwa yesterday confirmed that the proposed age requirement for high positions in the party, such as president, was reduced - throwing a lifeline to younger party members who may have ambitions to contest for such positions.
The party in fact made specific emphasis on wanting to see its youth taking up higher positions, provided they have served as central committee and political bureau members for a specified timeframe.
The Swapo extraordinary congress, held last weekend, has looked at the requirements of Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) to ascend to higher positions in the ruling party.
"We have panel beat all we are talking about. There were age limits that were proposed for one to become either a president, vice-president or secretary-general. But when the extraordinary congress looked at the ages as proposed, it was found out that we were limiting the youth to come in," Shaningwa told reporters in Windhoek yesterday.
"Therefore, there is a rejection of what was proposed. It means the youth will not wait for 50 or 60 years for them to become president of our party. There is a reasonable age that was proposed."
Swapo veteran Helmut Angula last year outrageously suggested, in a document that formed part of the discussions last weekend, that members who want to compete for the party presidency and vice presidency should have been members of the party for 30 years, of which five must have been as a member of the central committee.
Although Shaningwa said the Swapo draft constitution has to go through legal drafters before being made public, the document, as revised by the extraordinary congress over the weekend, suggests that no party member shall be eligible for election as president of the party unless they are Namibian by birth or descent.
It further shows that such a person has to be a member of both the central committee and the political bureau for a minimum period of 10 years uninterrupted, or has been a member of the party for a continuous period of 30 years, provided that for purpose of the provision of the constitution, 30 years shall be counted from the time such a member qualified to be a member of the party's pioneer movement [and] is nominated by the political bureau or the central committee.
It also shows that SPYL membership is open to all Namibians provided that pioneers between the ages of 6 and 17 do not support any political party, organisation, movement or entity whose aims and objectives are contrary or inimical to those of the party.
Initially, for a youth to become president he or she had to wait to be 48 years of age, counting from 18 years of age, to the required continuous period of 30 years a person has been a member of the party.
The proposed constitutional amendments now make provision that 30 years shall be counted from the time such a member qualified to be a member of the pioneer movement (at the age of six) is nominated by the political bureau or the central committee.
This then could mean the age has been reduced to 36 years for one to qualify to be president unlike the previous age of 48.
It was also proposed that should the president be unable to permanently perform his or her duties or to carry out his or her functions for whatever reason, an extraordinary congress shall be called by the central committee within three months of the vacancy occurring to elect a new president to complete the unexpired term of the former president unless such vacancy occurs six months prior to the ordinary congress. In such an event, it is proposed that the vice-president shall exercise all the powers, duties and functions of the president pending the election of the president at the ordinary congress.
The draft also shows that a membership of SPYL shall be open to all Namibian youths who accept the aims and objectives of Swapo Party and whose age is between 18 and 35 years.
It further proposes that those who are between 18 and 35 years are first members of Swapo Party before becoming members of the SPYL.