New Era journalist Kuzeeko Tjitemisa last week caught-up with National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) presidential hopeful angling for the party’s top spot, Utjiua Muinjangue to discuss her future goals for the party. If elected as party’s president, Muinjangue will become the first woman to lead a political party in the country. She will go head-on with Vetaruhe Kandorozu at the party elective congress this coming Saturday.
Here is what she had to say…
KT: What attributes and traits are requisite to a candidate running for the NUDO presidency and why do you think you are endowed with these traits than your rivals?
UM: “Well, leadership is about influencing others and that comes so close to social work which is concerned about influencing others and be a change agent. My background is social work, a value based profession. In my work as a social worker, I have developed qualities and traits that I strongly believe would be a plus as NUDO President.
As a person I am very hard working, a good quality for any leadership position. Perseverance and risk taking, I am very determined and dedicated to things that I believe in. Not afraid to take risks at all, one of the attributes that motivated me to challenge this presidency positon. Confidence and integrity, I am a very confident woman with high level of reliability. People can trust me and am very reliable.
I respect myself very much and so do I respect others. I am smart and flexible, making people find me very approachable. A very friendly person but yet not allowing others to mess with me. I am not comparing myself to anyone else as I do appreciate the uniqueness of every individual but I do believe in myself and with the above-stated traits I said to myself “why not.”
KT: Previously you ran for the highest position of NUDO Women. What happened?
UM: “I was the NUDO Women’s League Secretary General from 2007 to 2017. Last year my initial plan was not to stand but since there was one candidate only, I decide a week before the congress to run. People should never get things on a silver plate, they will not appreciate that. I never campaigned or lobbied but I lost with six votes only. What does that tell you?
KT: If NUDO then and not necessarily NUDO women thought of you what they thought to the extent that they could not choose you for that position, what do you think have changed this time around that gives you confidence for even the highest position?
UM: “As I mentioned before, I lost because I never made any efforts. So it was not because NUDO women or NUDO did not choose me. Remember without campaigning I lost with six votes! What have changed this time is that it is still the same NUDO and some NUDO women who have approached me to stand. That is one, two, I want to do it and I am convinced that I will win. I have put a lot of effort into the campaign and remember I said I have perseverance. In fact I am enjoying this whole exercise and it is so good. In fact I am at the stage of my life where I feel content and happy with myself. I am experiencing inner peace and happiness right now. I am at the self-actualisation level of Maslow Hierarchy of Needs!”
KT: Until now in this running you have been in oblivion as far as NUDO is concerned, what gives you the courage?
UM: “In fact you missed it to think that I have been in the oblivion regarding NUDO. Let me remind you that I have been working shoulder to shoulder with my late President Kuaima Riruako, not only on the genocide and reparation issues but at the political level as well.
He trusted me very much and I was one of his pillars. In fact it is because of him that I have not and will never forget NUDO. I owe it to him to keep his legacy and to finish what he started and could not finish when he withdrew NUDO from the then DTA (PDM) now in 2004.
He wanted NUDO to contribute in addressing the psychosocial issues faced by Namibians. This is one of the reasons that gives me the courage to run. Also, I was NWL SG until 2017.“
KT: Perhaps in NUDO you may be known as a leader but not many people know you as a leader outside of NUDO, does that bother you in anyway or not because those outside NUDO do not or may not matter to you?
UM: “Wow, you are talking to someone that you do not know, it seems. Do not say many people do not know me, rather say you do not know me. I was one of the few black social workers to serve Namibia. I started my career with the then Ovaherero Administration and joined the Ministry of Health and Social Services shortly after independence. In my work I impacted the lives of many from all walks of life.
I have been doing motivation speeches at churches, schools, on the radio, television. I have been a part-time tutor at Namcol where I engaged with many diverse groups. Not to mention my lecturing role at the University of Namibia. In fact, I would argue that many people who know me are outside NUDO. I have friends in all 14 regions of Namibia and outside Namibia too. I said leadership is about influencing others, I have impacted on the lives of many.”
KT: For the benefit of those who may not have been privy to you and your being in NUDO, what leadership qualities do you have that may be of benefit to NUDO and what could have been the source of these qualities?
UM: “I think this has been covered before, but let me add that my communication skills will definitely be of benefit to NUDO. Being conversant, friendly and a good speaker will help me in reaching out to many people who could be potential members. I am a very open person who makes friends very easily. These are positively good qualities for a politician.
Besides that I will rely heavily on my managerial knowledge, skills and qualities as my Masters was on management and supervision in social work.”
KT: Lately you have been quoted in the media as castigating the NUDO team in Parliament for its meekness if not silence in this house on the issue of GENOCIDE, being a member of NUDO yourself and active within the GENOCIDE movement could this not perhaps be a reflection of yourself as well as a NUDO member?
UM: “You are absolutely right that I have been criticising the NUDO team in Parliament for its quietness in the House. I have done that and will continue complaining about that. But you are wrong to single out the genocide issue. There are so many psychosocial issues that affect Namibians and I do not hear my party members expressing themselves on such issues. A boxer is using the ring to show his skills, soccer player in the soccer field, a pastor in the church. Where does a politician display his/her skills and qualities if not in Parliament? That is a platform where one does not deserve to be mute and invisible.”
KT: Why and to what extent do you think Parliament is still relevant to the issue of GENOCIDE post the 2006 GENOCIDE motion by the late Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Dr. Kuaima Riruako?
UM: “Shooo, Parliament remains relevant as long as the issues of genocide and reparation have not been resolved. Also note that reparation is not only money, it is more than that, e.g. symbolic reparations and the question remains: do we use political processes to address genocide and reparation or not? That will determine the relevance of your question.”
KT: NUDO has been perceived by many as a one tribe (Otjiherero) party and this is evident from your slate, what do you have to say about this?
UM: “Well, which party is not one tribe? UDF, APP and even the ruling party started as OPO. That perception is correct but that does not mean that other ethnic groups are not welcome. If I take over I will first revamp NUDO, pump life into it, seal all the cracks to make it attractive to others.”
KT: Do you have intentions to change this perception? If yes, how?
UM: “Of course, first stabilise NUDO, bring back trust, be visible by contributing in discussions in Parliament. Then reach out. People will not want to join a dead party as it is right now.”
KT: Do you realise running for NUDO presidency cannot be an end in itself or could this for you be an end in itself? If not what is the end and how realistic is that end?
UM: “The end is to make NUDO the alternative party, not an opposition. Opposing whom? But becoming a vibrant party working with other parties including the ruling party in building Namibia, addressing issues faced by Namibians. Work hard to increase NUDO seats in Parliament.”
KT: If elected as party president, what are some of your short and long terms objectives?
UM: “My short-term objectives is to revamp NUDO as a party by visiting NUDO offices in all regions where we have/had votes in 2004. To increase votes in the November 2019 national elections.
If NUDO is perceived to be a party for Otjiherero speaking Namibians, why do we have two seats in Parliament? Ovaherero are more than 250 000. I need to work very hard to restore the party and instill confidence in the party among many others.
And my long term objectives include liaise and network with other political parties to explore on how to strengthen democracy and nation building. Make NUDO a home for all Namibians. Build a bridge between the various ethnic groups in Namibia to enhance peace and harmony, so that we embrace diversity and tolerance.”