Namibia: Swapo Congress - Ekandjo Met Shaningwa a Day After Geingob's Death

Swapo veteran, Jerry Ekandjo met Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa a day after president Hage Geingob's death to discuss the possibility of holding an extraordinary congress in three months.

The meeting came after Ekandjo allegedly learnt that the politburo had resolved the previous day to postpone the extraordinary congress.

Ekandjo, who has been vocal about the party holding its extraordinary congress after Geingob's death, says he told Shaningwa that it was a must that an extraordinary congress should take place in three months after the death of the president.

Ekandjo insists Swapo should convene an extraordinary congress this year.

"It's an obligation because the constitution demands it. They cannot come and play with academic words and say 'shall or whatever'. It's clear. Within three months the position must be filled," Ekandjo says.

"When the central committee (CC) met in March, instead of adhering to what the constitution says, they said no, it will cause disunity, there is no money. They postponed it to April 2025, meaning for 12 months, Swapo will be without a substantive executive president," he says.

Ekandjo says his insistence on Swapo convening an extraordinary congress to elect a party president does not indicate his intention to run for the position.

He says the Swapo CC's decision to postpone the party's extraordinary congress to April next year is a "serious violation" of the party's constitution.

The parliamentarian told The Namibian on Wednesday that his actions are motivated by a desire to defend the party's constitution rather than a personal quest for power.

"Some people are saying my stance on the LGBTQI+ community and calling on Swapo to convene an extraordinary congress means I want to stand for a position. It's not that. It's a reaction to the Supreme Court ruling and the serious violation of the Swapo party constitution by the central committee. Had it not been for those two things, I wouldn't have maintained that position," Ekandjo said.

The Supreme Court ruling last year says same-sex marriages concluded outside of Namibia should be recognised.


Ekandjo said this situation would mark the first time in Swapo's 64-year history that the party would be without a substantive executive president and he is worried Swapo will head into this year's elections without a commander-in-chief.

He said the CC that postponed the extraordinary congress to next year were afraid that Swapo vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah would lose the elections.

"If they allowed the extraordinary congress to go ahead, any person could win. They were afraid the vice president may not go through," he said, adding that the CC seriously violated Swapo's constitution.

"Totally violated it, and we, the members, are not happy with that. We cannot allow 12 months to pass without a substantive president," he said.


Ekandjo also raised concerns about a speech purportedly issued by founding president Sam Nujoma and read at the CC meeting by prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

Ekandjo said this was the first time he saw a statement alleged to be from Nujoma not signed.

"All the letters from the Nujoma Foundation are released either by comrade Nahas, who is the chairperson of the Sam Nujoma Foundation, or comrade Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, who is the deputy chair, and they were not aware of it," he said.

"In that letter, there is a sentence that says in the event of the extraordinary congress being held, it must be managed in such a way that the vice president emerges victorious. Do you think Nujoma will say that? How will the electorate of the committee ensure that she wins? It means you must manoeuvre. It means the elections must not be free and fair. Nujoma will never say that. That's not a Nujoma language," Ekandjo said.


Shaningwa told The Namibian yesterday that the extraordinary congress has not been postponed, but was set to take place on 18 April next year.

According to her, this decision was taken unanimously by the CC, in accordance with powers given to it by the Swapo constitution.

"That particular central committee decision was also transparently shared with all party members. There is no violation of the party constitution in that regard," Shaningwa said.

"The decision of the central committee was taken with no objection and in the best interest of our party. That is what is important to us," she said.

Political analyst Henning Melber weighed in on Ekandjo's criticism of the Swapo CC's decision to postpone the extraordinary congress and his stance on LGBTQI+ rights.

Melber says despite Ekandjo's denial of personal ambitions for power, his public interventions have considerable impact and could potentially fuel factional infighting within Swapo.

The timing of these discussions, Melber says, may not be in the party's best interest as it could draw attention away from the upcoming national elections.

Regarding the recognition of LGBTQI+ rights, Melber says Ekandjo's position conflicts with constitutional principles and could be detrimental to Namibia's international reputation.

"While his intervention on the recognition of LGBTQI+ rights does not relate to a personal quest for power, it is an attack on constitutional principles and an infringement on civil and human rights," he says.

"Given the ruling of the Supreme Court, it also is an attack on the rule of law and damaging Namibia's reputation internationally. That makes it worse than any personal ambitions for power, since it comes at a high price for those affected by fuelling homophobic tendencies and is doing harm to Namibia's image," Melber says.

Concerning the party presidency, Melber says the re-election of Nandi-Ndaitwah as vice president at the last Swapo congress and her endorsement as the presidential candidate to succeed Hage Geingob could influence the party's decision-making process.

He says the outcome of the national elections will likely impact the discussion on filling the party president's vacancy, suggesting that it might be more pragmatic to hold the congress after the elections.


Last month, Ekandjo launched an attack on the party's leadership, accusing it of engaging in intimidation, self-serving practices and a lack of transparency in the past nine years.

Ekandjo said in a statement, unity within Swapo has been compromised since 2015 and morale among party members has declined.

"A leadership vacuum has been the order of the day, with the spirit of a power struggle within the Swapo party filling the leadership space," he said.

He listed a series of issues plaguing the party, including a leadership crisis, tribalism and regionalism.

Ekandjo pointed to the Fishrot corruption scandal as a major blow to the party, along with "decisions made through established factionalism and slate politics", which have severely weakened Swapo.

He accused the party's CC, of which he is a member, of committing "a suicidal act" by postponing the party's extraordinary congress until next April.

Ekandjo also accused the CC of showing "audacity, capacity for disrespect and undermining the party constitution" in its decision to postpone the congress.

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