History of Namibia Part IV

By | May 10, 2021

The disadvantage of political stability, which results in equal measure from the dominance of SWAPO and the weakness of the opposition, is an increasing encrustation of the political apparatus. At its switching points, there are still well-earned, but now aging ‘Comrades’ from the time of the independence struggle. These are often not sufficiently qualified for the positions they have been assigned. Many a former freedom fighter still seems to be shaped by outdated friend-foe schemes in their thoughts and actions. However, since ‘seniority’ plays a major role in Namibia, the following generation of 40-50 year olds, who are often significantly better and mostly trained abroad, has not yet moved up to the control centers of power.

According to the constitution, President Hifikepunye Pohamba was not allowed to run for a third time after two terms in office; his term of office expired in March 2015. Unlike many other African heads of state, however, Pohamba did not cling to power and had announced at an early stage that he would hand over his office to the newly elected president.

All in all, as Namibia’s second president, Pohamba will go down in Namibian history primarily as the guardian of Namibia’s political stability, to whom the country is more important than his own person, but who, on the other hand, only few and, as many believe, clearly TOO few individual accents and thus the country has not developed significantly.

The present: 2015 – today (term of office Hage Geingob)

According to dentistrymyth, the decision as to who would become SWAPO’s presidential candidate (and thus Namibia’s President-elect) was made at the last SWAPO party congress in early December 2012. There, Hage Geingob – publicly recommended by President Pohamba as his successor – sat in the election as vice- president -President of SWAPO in the first ballot with 312 votes (and thus with an absolute majority) against his competitors Jerry Ekandjo (220 votes) and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana (64 votes).

With the cabinet reshuffle that followed just two days later, Pohamba and Geingob immediately created facts and cemented Geingob’s new position of power. With the cabinet reshuffle, Hage Geingob took over the office of prime minister again, the second most important position in the executive branch after the president. At the same time, his two rivals – Jerry Ekandjo and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana – were entrusted with taking over ministries with little influence, thus robbing them of their power base and being “sidelined” within the party.

The re-election of Hage Geingob as vice-president of SWAPO and the anticipated de facto nomination as presidential candidate of SWAPO was remarkable in that Geingob belongs to the Damara ethnic group and is therefore not a representative of the Owambo ethnic group that is dominant in Namibia. Hage Geingob has held high posts in the Namibian government for many years, including chairman of the constituent assembly in 1990 and then prime minister for twelve years immediately after independence. Even so, many Namibians considered it unlikely that a non-Owambo politician could become President of Namibia.

The fact that Geingob was able to prevail against two Owambo politicians at the SWAPO party congress suggests that ethnicity does not play the same dominant role in Namibia as it does in other African countries. Hage Geingob is considered a very experienced and at the same time pragmatic politician. Born in 1941, at the age of well over 70 – like Nujoma, Pohamba and many other Namibian politicians – he still belongs to the generation of the now aging ‘Comrades’ who were still active in Namibia’s liberation struggle in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s.

The fifth parliamentary and presidential elections then took place on November 28, 2014. Despite numerous organizational mishaps in the organization and implementation of the elections, the international election observers were largely in agreement that the elections were conducted freely and fairly. The superior victory of SWAPO was expected, but surprisingly, with 80.01% of the votes, SWAPO was able to increase its share of the vote by another 5% compared to the last election in 2009 (75.28%). The ‘strongest’ opposition party was the DTA (Democratic Gym Alliance) with just 4.80% (!) Of the vote.

All other 14 parties, including the RDP (Rally for Democracy and Progress), founded in 2007, which in 2009 received 11.31% of the vote straight away, remained below 3.60% and thus insignificant. The SWAPO received 77 of the 96 normal mandates, another eight MPs will be appointed by the new president according to the constitution. (These eight appointed MPs, however, have only limited voting rights. They are not allowed to vote on proposals that require a two-thirds majority.

A clear victory for Geingob was expected for the direct election of the president, which took place at the same time as the parliamentary elections, but that Geingob would then receive almost 86.73% of the vote, which is almost 7% more than SWAPO in the parliamentary election and almost 12%. few expected more than Pohamba when he was re-elected in 2009.

There are certainly various reasons for the political supremacy of SWAPO, which was once again impressively confirmed by the 2014 elections. On the one hand, SWAPO, with its well-organized party apparatus represented throughout the country, was the only party that carried out a professional election campaign. The opposition parties were unable to do this in terms of personnel, organization, and certainly not financially. On the other hand, none of the opposition parties is currently offering voters a real alternative to SWAPO in terms of personnel and programs. The weakness of the opposition (which is also completely at odds with one another) is therefore a major reason for the SWAPO’s surprisingly high electoral victory, at least in terms of magnitude.

Gravestone of a soldier of the Schutztruppe in Swakopmund.