With the Swapo elective congress just a few months away, the party’s secretary general Nangolo Mbumba says he has had enough and would not be seeking a second term. The editor of The Villager Linekela Halwoodi talks to Mbumba about his plans and the build-up to the elective congress.
LH: Is this your last term as SG?
NM: I have been here as deputy secretary general under Madam Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana for ﬁve years, then from 2012 as secretary general. It is a beautiful job. I like it. It is full of ups and downs, but it will be unfair for me to want to stay another ﬁve years. That is deﬁnitely on my part. In politics they say never say never, but there are many other candidates younger than me who want the job. I will be happy to hand over the ofﬁce. There are some things we have done well; the party school is functioning now. We are going to have a data base for all our members; we have the issue of building the Head Quarters and that will be the task for the next team. I have had my share of the elections. The real principle is, everyone is crying that we do not want to give opportunities to others, the opportunity is there, but luckily they have to compete for it and let the best person win.
LH: If you are nominated for the position again, would you accept it?
NM: I don’t think anybody will choose me again, not for the SG position. I am ready to serve my party but not for the position of SG. This is the most demanding job. It is the best job if you want to be trained to understand how people think and how they do things and I believe that it’s time for another person.
LH: What are the events that lead up to congress, how are people nominated and when?
NM: The last congress was in 2012; this congress is in 2017. That is ﬁve years. First, we must understand the structure. In-between the congresses, there is a central committee which makes the big decisions. Under the central committee is the Politburo. The Politburo meets as often as possible. The decisions taken by the Politburo must be reported to the central committee. The central committee must endorse, reject, improve or amend them. There is also a secretariat which does the administrative work and is chaired by the secretary general. We have secretaries for ﬁnance, economic affairs, for external relations, for transport; we have a number of them. These secretaries have to coordinate the work.
The real political structure is the Politburo and the central committee. When it comes to preparing for the congress ﬁrst the wings, which are the Women’s Council, Elder’s Council, Youth League and an afﬁliate NUNW must have their congresses. Elect their secretaries and deputy secretaries, elect their central committees of their wings and they nominate people to represent them at the Swapo congress. Women’s Council sends 20; elders send 16, youth sends 16, workers send 16. Then each region sends 10 delegates, so you have 140 people coming who were elected at regional conferences. We have 121 constituencies called districts. Each sends four that is 484 people in total.
Which makes the party democratic regarding representation because these people are coming from all corners of Namibia. Each constituency where we have a regional councillor we also have a district coordinator.
The majority of individuals who are coming to the congress are from the regions. The central committee only has 84 people as members, and those members include all the people in the Politburo. All together you have 776 people at the meeting.
The big campaign is to elect members of the Central Committee, there are procedures on how they are elected, and this is where the competition is. This is on a 50/50 basis. Fourteen of them are regional coordinators, four are secretaries of the wings, six are appointed by the party president, and now you will have 28 men and 28 women. The main thing is to be one of these 28 people.
Then we come to where everybody is interested, the top four. The president, the vice president, the secretary general and deputy secretary general. Our constitution demands that they are elected directly. They are not just part of the central committee; they are elected by name individually. The rule says for each position you can have three candidates.
The process is that the Politburo will nominate three candidates for each position. If for the position of SG you have four people the Politburo has to vote because it cannot take more than three names for each position to the Central Committee. The election will be held. Once you are nominated, you must be seconded to indicate that you have more than one person who wants you for that position. That is all that is required.
LH: When does the nomination happen?
NM: As I said, the wings have done their job except for the union, then Kavango West. The politburo has not yet endorsed the Kavango West report. Then Omaheke. If these were done, we would have started the process of nomination, but that has to be done in a proper politburo meeting.
Each member is invited to attend. Then these names go to the Central Committee, where they are endorsed, or the Central Committee adds. If the Central Committee adds and they become more than three per position, there will be a vote within the Central Committee. After that the majority of these 776 people’s duty is to vote.
The issue of whether you endorse or don’t is political. The real vote takes place at congress. At the congress, after we have discussed everything on where we want our country to be, there is voting. In all cases, the winner must get more than 51%. If none get more than 51%, the ﬁrst two who are the highest will be voted again. Nobody can be a leader and is not supported by the majority.
LH: Do you think this congress is the most controversial and will be most contested?
NM: I do not go by the (phrase), “the most”. It is not the congress which is being contested; it is the positions. The Swapo Party is a stable organisation; everybody would like to be part of its leadership because if you are part of Swapo, you can go to Parliament, if you are in parliament you can be a minister one day. There are reasons why we as Swapo members must compete. Under the vehicle of Swapo, we are allowed to do that. It all depends on how we manage our affairs. I am ready to vacate this position for anyone who will be elected at congress with more than 51%. Each person who comes in has their personality and their background. I do not want to give anybody any advice, but if they want me to give the advice, I would be ready to. The person who is going to be in the SG position must be willing to work hard for the sake of his party and all the members not some members only.