Namibia’s ruling party has selected Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as the party’s vice president, putting her in line to be the country’s first female presidential candidate when the current leader steps down in March 2024.
During a prolonged party congress that ended Monday night, members of Namibia’s ruling Swapo party re-elected Netumbo-Nandi Ndaitwah, the country’s deputy prime minister, as its vice president. According to the Swapo constitution, she will be the party’s candidate for president when the incumbent, Hage Geingob, completes his limit of two terms in office in about 15 months.
Ndaitwah cruised to an easy first-round victory over two other candidates, including her boss, the current prime minister. Speaking to VOA, Ndaitwah said she is prepared to lead.
“The point I am trying to make is there is no easy time in life,” she said. “So, every time it has its own challenges and I can tell you, whatever the challenges, there are always people who are ready to face those challenges and I am one of those. This is the time I am given in order to take the position. I am asking party members to give me that opportunity and I am ready.”
More than 700 delegates descended upon the capital for the party congress. Amongst the delegates were observers from nearby countries, such as Mike Bimha, national political commissar for Zimbabwe’s ZANU-PF party. He commended Namibia’s ruling party for ushering in new leadership through democratic systems and processes.
“Right from the first day, the conduct of congress went on very well and it was very purposeful,” he said. “Everybody was attending and the procedures were followed diligently. We were also delighted that the election process went on well. Procedures were followed and it was very transparent.”
The congress that was scheduled for three days was extended by a rerun for the deputy secretary general position, after none of the candidates won a majority of votes in the first round.
Uahekwa Herunga was later declared the winner per the Swapo constitution, which requires a gender balance in the top four positions. The ruling Swapo party has led Namibia since independence in 1990 and commands strong support from voters, paving the way for Ndaitwah to become the country’s first female head of state.
Only one woman has been elected head of state in Africa, that being Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.