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      'I'm ready to serve' ...Hanse-Himarwa wants Swapo deputy secretary role

      by Ellen Albertz

      AFTER four years in the political wilderness, former minister of education, arts and culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa is planning a return to politics.

      She is eyeing the Swapo deputy secretary general position at the forthcoming Swapo elective conference slated for later this year.
      Her fate, however, lies in the central committee's hands.
      Hanse-Himarwa (55) was on 8 July 2019 found guilty by High Court judge Christie Liebenberg of wrongly and corruptly abusing or using her position as the governor of Hardap region by altering the original list of mass housing beneficiaries for the benefit of two of her relatives in December 2014.
      She was sentenced to 24 months in prison, with 12 months suspended or pay a fine of N$50 000.
      The former minister said she is ready to come back if the party and its leadership want her back.
      “I was called by various members asking whether I would like to come back and stand for this position. I consented because since I was 12 years old, I have served in the structures of Swapo. I have grown through the ranks and never jumped the queue to get ahead. So based on my leadership skills and experience, if they want me, why not? I'm ready to serve,” said Hanse-Himarwa.
      Hanse-Himarwa noted, however, it could be premature since there are party rules and procedures still to be followed. For instance, the central committee and political bureau would have to decide whether to formalise the nomination.
      Once this nomination is formalised, other contenders for the position will be announced and the campaign process will start, culminating in the elections at the congress. Those who emerge successful will start duties at the beginning of 2023.
      “My journey has been a painful one, yet I believe the foundation that was laid in my life and my track record as a leader are the reason my name is being mentioned once again. Even though I was convicted, there is nothing in me that says I did something wrong. I provided housing, and those who testified against me were coming from the comfort of the homes I provided,” said the former minister.
      Swapo legal adviser on disciplinary affairs and elections Pohamba Shifeta said the party is guided by the Constitution of the country and its laws as well as the Swapo constitution in terms of having persons who were convicted of corruption or any other crimes in the courts coming back to serve.
      Shifeta said based on the Constitution, the law has run its course and fined Hanse-Himarwa. Therefore, she has paid for her crime. In terms of the Swapo constitution, a person given a prison sentence of more than 12 years without the option of a fine is disqualified, he said. That person is required to serve their prison sentence and thereafter remain out of politics for an additional 10 years.
      “You cannot punish a person twice for a single conviction. First, the Swapo constitution says once they have paid their fine they can stand again for positions of leadership in the party. Second, since nothing prohibits them to stand, Hanse-Himarwa is free to stand if she is nominated. Also during her conviction period she was never called in for any disciplinary hearing or matter,” said Shifeta.
      Hanse-Himarwa has been a member of the central committee and politburo.
      Political commentator Hoze Riruako believes certain convictions, like insolvency, will keep candidates out of public office for life. However, Hanse-Himarwa has paid her penance and if she is ready to serve again, she can as she has been redeemed, he said.
      Riruako said it is very important that Swapo carefully considers who they field for leadership this year as there are cries from their own member, and others have left the party to form their own parties because of a lack of youth inclusion, gender and democracy.
      “Going to congress, it will not be about camps. It will be about who you trust, who you are comfortable with and prefer to work with. Swapo must remember they went from a two-thirds majority to an 83% popularity with president Geingob but dropped during the last elections to 54%,” said Riruako.
      Hanse-Himarwa apologised to the two victims, the court and the nation for her involvement in the housing allocation scandal during her trial. She stepped down from her position as minister after her conviction.
      She has been spending her time as a farmer and businessperson.
      “When the conviction came as guilty, I stepped down to make way for the president to appoint somebody in a better position than I was at that moment. I also abided by the ruling and the law, but that time is over now, as it's been four years,” she said.

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