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» 18.01.2010 - MCA selects IBTCI for Namibia’s poverty project
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Politics | Society

Hifikepunye Pohamba: Namibia's next President

SWAPO presidential candidate, Hifikepunye Pohamba:
«I am a vote for continuity.»

© Nambian govt / afrol News
afrol News, 1 June
- Namibian Lands Minister, SWAPO presidential candidate, Hifikepunye Pohamba, this weekend was chosen the ruling SWAPO party's candidate for this year's presidential elections. Minister Pohamba was President Sam Nujoma's favourite candidate and is believed to continue on SWAPO's radicalisation. He is almost guaranteed of winning the presidential poll.

Namibia's totally dominant SWAPO party - which led the country to independence and counts on enormous trust in the population - this weekend entered a new era. A Windhoek party congress decided on the succession of 75-year-old President Nujoma, who led the party as it still was a rebel group fighting apartheid South Africa's occupation of Namibia.

Mr Nujoma is Namibia's first and only President since independence in 1990. His role as the republic's "founding President" gave him an earmarked position in the constitution, permitting him to stand three presidential terms as opposed to two terms for his successors. In end-2004, Mr Nujoma's time is however out and the popular party leader has had to name his successor.

President Nujoma in April announced that he definitively would step down and not seek a constitutional amendment, to allow him an fourth term. This led to the painful search for a new SWAPO presidential candidate. Three candidates came up, almost splitting the forceful ruling party.

Foreign Affairs Minister Hidipo Hamutenya was the favourite candidate of the party moderates, who want to stop the radicalisation of SWAPO. Mr Hamutenya however quickly was met with a smearing campaign from the party's top leadership, including President Nujoma, who called him an "agent of imperialists". On 25 May, the President sacked Mr Hamutenya from the Foreign Ministry, further contributing to diminish his chances at the SWAPO congress.

Education Minister Nahas Angula has been the second nominee to SWAPO's presidential candidate race. A consensus-builder, Mr Angula stands between the radical and the moderate block. Also the Education Minister was the victim of "dirty tricks" from the SWAPO leadership, but he managed to keep his position throughout the race.

President Nujoma made it clear that his preferred candidate was Lands, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Minister Pohamba. The candidate spoke the same language as the symbol-loaded Namibian President - who has led SWAPO and Namibia on a radical road towards President Mugabe's Zimbabwe - mostly in rhetoric, less in acts.

As Lands Minister, Mr Pohamba has been able to demonstrate that he is serious in the government's attempt to speed up land reform and redistribute lands from the white minority to the black majority of Namibians. Using a hard language, Minister Pohamba however in practical terms has avoided all the traps of Zimbabwe's land reform.

The 68-year-old's public appearance is effect-fully hard on whites, while he has assured foreign funding of a peaceful and orderly land reform. If - or when - Mr Pohamba becomes Namibia's second President, he is "expected to speed up the land reform," according to analysts in Namibia.

At this weekends SWAPO congress, Mr Pohamba won the nomination after a second round of voting, in which he received 341 votes to Mr Hamutenya's 167. The winner cheered what he called a SWAPO "vote for continuity."

- I will devote my time to the improvement of the well-being of the Namibian people and the preservation of peace and democracy, Mr Pohamba was quoted as saying in his acceptance speech by 'The Namibian'. After the final result was announced, Mr Hamutenya immediately embraced Mr Pohamba and pledged his full co-operation with him, the Windhoek daily reports.

The new SWAPO presidential candidate, who is also the party's Vice President, will have some busy months ahead of him in the run-up to the November elections. "In the next few days and weeks, consultations will start in the party structures to develop the manifesto," he announced.

A split in the SWAPO party was also avoided as both Mr Hamutenya and Mr Angula declared the party vote had been free and fair and pledged to support Mr Pohamba in the November poll. "We have set a good example," former Foreign Minister Hamutenya told 'The Namibian', referring to the SWAPO election process.

In Namibia's upcoming presidential poll, SWAPO is believed to have a certain victory. The Namibian people at large supports the ex-liberation fighters who secured independence only 14 years ago. The opposition is split and many parties have their roots in the former apartheid system. While the opposition is steadily growing, few observers think 2004 will be the year when SWAPO loses its control over Namibian voters.

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