Africa-Press – Namibia. VICE president Nangolo Mbumba has defended his failure to attend a Swapo rally hosted by party vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah at Ongwediva last week.
Other top Swapo leaders who were in the region but did not attend the rally are minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta, minister of information and communication technology Peya Mushelenga, and five regional governors.
Nandi-Ndaitwah was invited by Swapo coordinator for the Oshana region Samuel Nelongo to address the rally.
Nelongo yesterday said he could not speak on behalf of the vice president, ministers or governors. Nandi-Ndaitwah and prime minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila are seen as the front-runners for the country’s top leadership position.
Nandi-Ndaitwah, who was elected as Swapo vice president at the party’s elective congress in 2017, reportedly told media last month she would be interested in the presidential position when president Hage Geingob’s presidency lapses.
Mbumba, Mushelenga, Shifeta, Omusati regional governor Erginus Endjala, Oshana governor Elia Irimari, Kavango East governor Bonifatius Wakudumo, Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku, Oshikoto governor Penda ya Ndakolo and Kunene governor Marius Sheya last week attended an engagement meeting with Angolan delegations at the José Eduardo dos Santos University of Namibia campus at Ongwediva.
Mbumba hosted Angolan vice president Bonito Diogo, and Angolan ambassador to Namibia Jovelina Costa, among other delegates.
Various traditional leaders, such as Ondonga chief Fillemon Nangolo and Uukwambi chief Herman Iipumbu were, however, in attendance at the rally.
Asked why he did not attend the Swapo rally, Mushelenga said: “Did they know my programme?”
Mbumba said he was concentrating on his national duty.
“Look. Before you sell your newspaper with this rumour, honourable Netumbo went there to address the party rally. I was with an international guest. Why do you want me to attend that event?” he asked.
Some sources in the party say the apparent snub by bigwigs shows Nandi-Ndaitwah does not command support in the party. Other party leaders, including minister of urban and rural development Erastus Uutoni, Ohangwena governor Walde Ndevashiya and Oshakati mayor Leonard Hango, however, made their way to the Swapo rally after their earlier engagements. Shifeta told The Namibian he did not go to the north to attend the rally, but attended the government programme.
Wakudumo said he was at Ongwediva on Mbumba’s invitation, and after finishing, he drove back to Rundu to attend to other equally important commitments.
“I was not aware of any Swapo meeting taking place at the town,” he said, while Irimari said as head of the region he needed to escort Mbumba to Ondangwa and make sure he arrives at his house or leaves the region.
Irimari said he was aware of Nandi-Ndaitwah’s event, adding he was part of the organising committee.
Meanwhile, Ondangwa mayor Paavo Amwele, who also attended Mbumba’s event but did not make it to the Swapo rally, said he got delayed at Ondangwa when he went with the vice presidents’ delegation.
Nandi-Ndaitwah said Mbumba did not attend the rally because he was hosting Angola’s vice president on behalf of the Namibian people.
Attempts by The Namibian to get a comment from the chairperson of Swapo leaders assigned to Oshana, Veikko Nekundi, were not successful.