Hamutenya writes off Geingob
Former Swapo presidential hopeful Hidipo Hamutenya has expressed his doubts that the ruling party’s Vice-President, Dr Hage Geingob, will emerge as the party’s presidential candidate from this year’s congress.
Hamutenya, now president of the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) after a presidential race that went nasty in 2004, also believes that Swapo Secretary General Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana will not make the presidential cut.
He is convinced that the Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab and, possibly, Prime Minister Nahas Angula are realistic contenders for the Swapo, and ultimately Namibian, presidential candidacy.
Geingob, Hamutenya said in an exclusive interview with Namibian Sun yesterday, spoiled any chances he had after he was said to have raised the infamous episode of the Lubango dungeons.
“I don’t see Hage coming out, not because he’s incapable, but because he’s made some mistakes,” said Hamutenya.
“The dungeon thing that he raised will come back to haunt him because, logically, Swapo members will not elect anyone into power who is likely to revive that issue.”
It is said that Geingob was himself a candidate for the alleged Swapo dungeons, in which those suspected of spying and collusion with the enemy were allegedly tortured.
It is claimed that Geingob sensationally raised the issue in February at a meeting of the Swapo top-four leaders, to the chagrin of those in attendance.
“That statement will cost him dearly. The senior leaders in Swapo would not want him in the top position,” Hamutenya concluded.
The RDP president’s observation should not be taken lightly, having himself been within reach of the Swapo presidential candidacy in 2004 in a run-up to that year’s congress.
He went into that congress as arguably the strongest candidate, but powerful lobbying from influential members of the ruling party meant he could only became second to the eventual winner, Hifikepunye Pohamba, now President.
Angula, then the Minister of Education, could not make it beyond the first round at that congress and many of his supporters voted for Pohamba in the second round.
Geingob is currently seen as one of the strongest contenders for the presidency, but so are Angula and Iivula-Ithana.
But contrary to popular belief that the Swapo Secretary General can spring a surprise and steal the show at the congress, Hamutenya is unconvinced.
“Pendukeni has made many enemies. She lacks tact of leadership and, like Hage, is impulsive.”
With both the Vice-President and Secretary General supposedly out of the equation, Swapo is short of candidates, Hamutenya said.
“They might seek nomination from the floor because there is really no clear candidate.”
About his 2004 rival, Nahas Angula, Hamutenya said: “In the context of this year’s congress, Nahas is a spoiler and a credible alternative candidate.”
The RDP leader, a once popular figure within the top echelons of Swapo, is convinced that Gurirab stands a better chance than any potential candidate mentioned thus far.
“Gurirab stands a good chance if he mounts a good campaign. He can easily defeat Nahas, Hage, Pendukeni and Marco Hausiku.”
Hamutenya is still sticking to his belief that former president Dr Sam Nujoma’s massive influence in Swapo was the catalyst of his defeat to Pohamba in 2004.
“In 2004, it was Sam who drove the whole thing. He was determined that I do not come out victorious.”
The opposition politician is, however, convinced that Nujoma still enjoys massive influence in the ruling party.
“People will feel more secure if they have Nujoma’s support rather than Pohamba’s at the congress.”
“But don’t also forget that Pohamba and Nujoma have in recent years become very close and may have the same person as their preferred presidential candidate.”