Jerry Ekando

May 20, 2013, 9:08 am

Jerry Ekandjo (born 17 March 1947[1]) is a Namibian politician who has served in the government of Namibia as Minister of Youth and Sport since 2012. Previously he was Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing from 1990 to 1995, Minister of Home Affairs from 1995 to 2005, Minister of Lands and Resettlement from 2005 to 2008, and Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development from 2008 to 2012.
Political career
Ekandjo was born in Windhoek. He was a member of the SWAPO Party Youth League from 1969 to 1973and served as Chairman of its Windhoek Branch. In August 1973 he was arrested, and in November 1973 he was put on trial for incitement of violence. He was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison, which he spent on Robben Island in South Africa. Following his release in 1981, he was a teacher from 1982 to 1987, and in 1989, he was the deputy head of SWAPO voter registration. Immediately prior to independence, he was a SWAPO member of the Constituent Assembly, which was in place from November 1989 to March 1990, and since independence in 1990 he has served as a member of the National Assembly of Namibia. He also became Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing in 1990, serving in that position until 1995. He was Deputy Minister of Home Affairs from March 1995 until being promoted to the post of Minister of Home Affairs in September 1995. After nearly ten years as Minister of Home Affairs, Ekandjo was moved to the post of Minister of Lands and Resettlement on March 21, 2005.
He received the highest number of votes, 395 (tied with Nahas Angula), in the election to the Central Committee of SWAPO at the party's August 2002 congress. It was reported that at the time of the November 2007 SWAPO congress, some in the party wanted Ekandjo to become the party's Vice-President, although at the congress Hage Geingob was elected to the post without opposition. Ekandjo is widely considered to be a hardliner in the party. He received the highest number of votes in the election for the SWAPO Central Committee at the November 2007 congress. On January 27 2008, he was elected as SWAPO's Secretary for Information and Publicity at a Central Committee meeting, a move that was considered surprising given Ekandjo's reputation for having a harsh attitude toward the media.
Ekandjo was moved from his post as Minister of Lands and Resettlement to that of Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development in a Cabinet reshuffle on 8 April 2008. At SWAPO's 2012 party congress, Ekandjo stood as a candidate for SWAPO Vice-President, but he was defeated by Hage Geingob in the vote held on 2 December 2012. Geingob received 312 votes from the delegates, while Ekandjo received 220 votes and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana received 64 votes. In the wake of the congress, Ekandjo was moved to the post of Minister of Youth and Sport as part of a Cabinet reshuffle on 4 December 2012.
Controversies
In 2000, Ekandjo, as Home Affairs Minister, urged police to eliminate homosexuals from Namibia. This caused great controversy in Namibia, especially with Namibia's homosexual community. The opposition Democratic Turnhalle Alliance and United Democratic Front put forward a motion of no-confidence against Ekandjo, but in the vote on October 11 2000, SWAPO MPs voted unanimously against the motion, defeating it.
On 9 February 2001, Ekandjo was found guilty of contempt of court for not releasing the jailed former representative of the Angolan rebel group UNITA in Namibia, Jose Domingo Sikunda, despite a court order to do so. The government said that it would appeal Ekandjo's conviction.
On HIV-AIDS
Ekandjo, through his status as minister, has worked to reduce the prevalence of AIDS in Namibia. He has been quoted as saying "Surely one of the main lessons of these past 25 years is that when we are united we win, when we are divided, AIDS wins".