Namibia: landslide for Nujoma's successor; The result was never in much doubt, but the size of Hifikepunye Pohamba's victory in the mid-November elections surprised many. Stuart Price reports.

Author:Price, Stuart
Position:Around Africa
 
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When the Namibian people went to the polls in mid-November, it was for the first time they were not re-electing the country's founding father, Sam Nujoma. It was his successor, Hifikepunye Pohamba, who ran on the South West African People's Organisation (Swapo) ticket. And he won by a landslide.

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A firm ally and friend of Nujoma since the days of the independence struggle, Pohamba has served under him in a variety of positions, including home affairs minister, minister of fisheries and marine resources, minister without portfolio, and full-time party secretary general. He was Nujoma's personal choice as successor and enjoyed his open support in the run-up to the party congress.

That Pohamba won the presidential election by such a large majority reflects the respect that both Swapo and Nujoma enjoyed during his tenure of office, but also the party's continuing popularity. The fact that the two men have an uncanny resemblance to each other, even down to their trade-mark beards, only seems to further reaffirm this belief.

Pohamba won the honour of succeeding Nujoma at a two-day "extraordinary congress" held by Swapo on 28 and 29 May. He beat off challenges from the higher education minister Nahas Angula, and the former foreign minister, Hidipo Hamutenya.

At the time, Nujoma congratulated his successor by saying: "Knowing you and having worked with you during the difficult years of the national liberation struggle and thereafter, I have confidence that you will execute your responsibilities to the best of your abilities and in the best interests of the country and all of its people ... We shall rally behind you and vote for you during the forthcoming presidential elections. We are confident and remain assured that our party and our country are in safe hands and our future will be secure and prosperous."

It would seem from the result that these words rang loud and true for the electorate.

A one time political prisoner and father of six, Pohamba struggled alongside Nujoma during the pre-independence days. He was born in the northern Namibian district of Okanghudi on 18 August 1935. He assisted in the creation of Swapo at the age of 25, which led to his...

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