Swapo calls Nujoma's bluff

After nearly two months of defiance, disgraced former Swapo youth leader Paulus Kapia has finally relented and resigned his seat in Parliament. This after a last ditch attempt by his mentor, former president Sam Nujoma, to sway the party’s politburo to hold fire until a corruption court case currently under way in Namibia is concluded.

Kapia is a key figure in a scam in which R37million of state funds were invested with dubious investment companies.

At Nujoma’s behest, he successfully campaigned for Hifikepunye Pohamba to secure the Swapo nod as Namibian president ahead of party intellectual Hidipo Hamutenya.

Sources in the former liberation movement say Pohamba flexed his muscles at the politburo when Nujoma tried to use his party presi-dency to plea for leniency.

Pohamba called the Swapo patriarch’s bluff and insisted on a vote, indicating he would not tolerate any breach of his pledge of “zero tolerance” on corruption.

The move is seen as a watershed moment: Nujoma losing his grip on Swapo affairs as the politburo, accustomed to rubber-stamping “what Nujoma wants”, asserted itself. At a news conference, Nujoma glumly announced that Kapia, already stripped of his deputy ministerial post, would no longer be a lawmaker.

Swapo spokesperson Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah declined to comment on the politburo showdown. But it has emerged that Swapo veterans, among them Nelson Mandela’s former cellmate on Robben Island, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, had recently asked Nujoma to pass on the party cudgels to Pohamba because of perceptions that he was undermining the head of state. Nujoma has yet to respond.

Swapo’s next congress is set for 2007. Tension emanating from the succession race for president of the country still lingers, dividing the party leadership and rank and file alike. Party insiders say Nujoma’s retirement from active politics would go a long way to mending fences with disgruntled supporters of Hamutenya, who blame the “big man of Namibian politics” for robbing their candidate of the presidential mantle.

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