Swapo secretary-general Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana admits that talk of a woman president in Namibia has earned her political adversaries from within the ranks of Swapo.
Swapo is in search for a candidate to field in the 2014 presidential elections and Iivula-Ithana is the sole woman in the pool of potential candidates filled with the party’s bigwigs.
This has come back to haunt her, she said, although there currently is no solid indication that she would contest for the country’s presidency.
For her to stand as candidate, she has to be nominated by the party’s central committee and this has not happened.
Her “adversaries”, as she labeled those feeling threatened by her potential candidacy, are accusing her of campaigning vigorously, a claim she vehemently denied.
“My deep personal feeling is that this campaign that is raging in the public is meant primarily to eliminate certain individuals. I see it in that light,” she said.
“I keep saying I’ve not been approached and, knowing the Swapo culture, I cannot just start on my own to start campaigning. What do I campaign for?” she asked.
Political pundits say the fact that Iivula-Ithana is a woman can turn things in her favour at the congress next year.
Since taking over as Swapo SG, Iivula-Ithana has been heavily linked with the possibility of contesting for the country’s presidency. Some think she has become very strong that her opponents at the congress, if she eventually contests, will square up against her in hope than expectation.
She now believes that a well-calculated campaign is on against her, waged by men in the party.
That section of men, she said, are using all tactics in the book to discredit her, even calling her “too radical” to be president.
“People are saying I am too radical and therefore I cannot become president,” she said.
“There are talks in the public for a woman president. And in the minds of my adversaries, the only person who is prominent enough to be thought of as a potential candidate is me,” she said.
“That’s why they want to destroy me in good time so that when the actual time comes, they’ve done away with me.”
Iivula-Ithana, if she decides to stand for the presidency, would be up against fellow seasoned leaders in the party, all of whom are likely to be men.