My victory is certain, Itula believes

… Analysts say his candidacy is ‘a joke’

By Eliaser Ndeyanale

THE countdown to 27 November has begun with only 34 days to go until Namibia heads to the polls to vote for a new parliament, but “independent candidate” Panduleni Itula seems relaxed about his prospects, saying he will defeat the Swapo Party, of which he is said to be a member.

In a telephonic interview with Confidente this week, Itula – who was relatively unknown in the country’s political circles until his recent announcement of his intention to run for the presidency – said he will win decisively and be inaugurated as Namibia’s fourth president come 21 March next year.

He also advised Swapo not to solicit legal opinion on how to deal with party members who run as “independent candidates” against the nominated candidates. The dentist, who boasted about his Master’s degree in law, said Swapo would lose money if it seeks such legal opinion, as initiated by party president Hage Geingob at the Swapo star rally in Omaheke region on Saturday.

Asked if he believes he can win, Itula said “I don’t just stand a good chance of winning the elections, I will sweep the whole nation. We will win, the people will win these elections and Dr Itula will be elected for the first time in the history of Africa as the independent presidential candidate,” he said, referring to himself in the third person.

He said those who claim he is being used as a proxy insults his intelligence as he is an independent thinker who understands his rights and is not anyone’s surrogate. “I ignored their attack … They are chasing a mouse that doesn’t exist. Come to the determined warrior of the Namibian generation of the 1970s that is not fearful of anybody or allegations, that is looking to use the Namibian Constitution as weapon to slash those that consider our Constitution as a [mere] piece of paper.

“That Constitution is born out of the blood of our people and no one can deny us the right to stand independently in the pursuit of right and freedom of our people,” said Itula, adding that he has also stopped using Swapo Party colours in his campaigns.

“I think Swapo has been lying to the people. Let me clearly state that Swapo leadership that is disputed came in as a result of the failure of Hage [Geingob] to follow the rules, calling our Constitution a piece of paper. That leadership will continue to tell lies to the people. But they can tell lies to the people as well as they want. The people will come to a point that they will say ‘enough is enough.’”

Itula intends to launch his manifesto on Saturday at Havana sport field in Windhoek. “I will advise the Swapo leadership to surrender or face the consequence of a nation that is not angry but determined to regain its dignity.”

He also remarked that his decision to run for the presidency should not be perceived as a personal contest against Geingob.

“Hage Geingob is representing a legal person which has got no legs, ears or mind and that’s Swapo. The Namibian Constitution has made provision for people to contest, to participate in public affairs directly whether they belong to a party or not and or through freely chosen representatives. Hage has not been freely chosen, he was an automatic [candidate] … automatic destruction of democracy,” Itula claimed.

”I am contesting [after] being nominated by over 17 000 Namibians. I have got a bigger mandate of democracy than his automaticity. He has no mandate from anybody… Automatic nomination in a democratic space is not a democratic feature and therefore I will not and cannot recognize that,” he said, adding that in his view President Geingob is not worthy to lead the country.

Former prime minister Nahas Angula declined to comment on the matter, saying he does not speak on behalf of Swapo. “Go and ask Dr Itula himself or ask the secretary-general of Swapo. It’s not my business to talk about those things. I am retired, go and ask those in charge. I am an outsider.”

Political analyst Prof Henning Melber said Itula lacks a sense of realism and has no support system in place to enable him to run State House, because he cannot expect to receive a significant number of votes from Swapo members and supporters.

“His candidacy … is a joke. If you’re dissatisfied with Swapo Party policy, you don’t vote for a Swapo member posing as an independent candidate. What policy could he possibly represent?

“The electoral law offers an option [for independent candidates], which in my view makes a mockery of the electoral process. What is the political programme of Itula and how does he want to implement it? Who would be his team in State House and how would he fill cabinet? Who would support him in the National Assembly?

“After all, he is not the Swapo candidate, but Swapo will again get a majority of votes. The mere fact that Itula declares to win election against Swapo candidate [before the election has started] shows his lack of judgment and should disqualify him,” Melber said.

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