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I will not interfere in Presidency – Saara’s husband

BUSINESSMAN Onesmus Tobias Amadhila says he won’t interfere in his wife, Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s government work if she became Namibia’s president.

Kuugongelwa-Amadhila is among four candidates nominated for the Swapo vice-president position.

She could be named as the party’s 2024 presidential candidate if she wins the four-horse race that includes deputy prime minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, minister of defence and veterans affairs Frans Kapofi, and minister of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta.

Media reports have over the years linked Kuugongelwa-Amadhila’s husband to alleged irregularities involving state institutions.

This has tainted the prime minister’s anti-corruption reputation.

Amadhila was reluctant to comment on his wife’s political career, but yesterday telephonically told The Namibian he would support her.

“I will give her my support to do her job properly as the president of the country, because she will need it to succeed in her duties so she can lead the country and the people well.

“I will not be involved in running the government, I will not interfere in her work,” he said.

Amadhila and former military man Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah, who in 1963 married the other woman front-runner for Swapo’s vice-presidency, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, will make history if their wives become president.

Amadhila said it is too early to comment on his role if his wife wins the presidential race.

“I personally think it’s too early to comment on this. Campaigning will only start around 14 and 15 [September]. Let’s give the process which started a chance, as opposed to putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

Amadhila said his life would not change if his partner became Namibia’s first woman president.

“Should my wife become president, my life will not really change. I am not a child, I am a mature man who is well-established. But if you mean in areas such as security wise and so on, then of course life will change a bit – as long as it will be for the good of the country, I will also be disciplined,” Amadhila said.

The Namibian last year reported that Amadhila received preferential treatment from the Development Bank of Namibia, which was overseen by his wife who was the minister of finance at the time.

The Namibian also reported that the bank has been reluctant to take action against him while he defaulted on his loans totalling N$180 million. The couple was also implicated in a N$5,5 million farm deal near Grootfontein that saw them profit from the sale of farms to the government, which was administratively run by Kuugongelwa-Amadhila.

They sold two farms to the government for N$14,4 million – making an N$8,9 million profit. The couple has denied any wrongdoing.

The premier has in the past insisted that she does not involve her husband in state business.

“Amadhila is a business person and has been in business prior to being my husband. His dealings with any institution, public or private, are subject to the applicable policies as approved, and I have never used my position to secure special treatment for him,” she said.


If Nandi-Ndaitwah becomes president, she would have the support of a former military general.

She married Epaphras Denga Ndaitwah in 1983 while based in Tanzania. Ndaitwah was then a leading figure in Swapo’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (Plan).

He eventually served two years as Namibia’s defence chief until his retirement in 2013.

President Hage Geingob’s inner circle has allegedly been worried about the former general’s proximity to Nandi-Ndaitwah.

The defence chief declined to comment when approached yesterday.

He has always maintained it would not be fair for him to speak about the possibility of his wife becoming president.

“It would be biased,” he said earlier this year.

He met the young and determined diplomat at the Zambia airport in 1979, where she worked for Swapo’s diplomatic and politics department in Lusaka.


Political analyst Rui Tyitende says the spouses of the two presidential hopefuls would have an impact on them.

“Amadhila is a well-known businessman. What are the chances that they will not converse about issues pertaining to the economy and role of the private sector? Would he discuss potential tenders in which he has an interest with his wife should she become president?” he asks.

“Lieutenant general Ndaitwah should not exert influence in key appointments and policymaking should his wife become president of Namibia. For example, as a seasoned military commander, his wife would possibly consult him regarding the appointment of key members of the security cluster.” Tyitende says it is “inconceivable” that the couples would shy away from political deliberations in their private space.

He says Nandi-Ndaitwah and Kuugongelwa-Amadhila should, however, not be judged on who their partners are.

“ . . . but rather on their individual capacity to lead Namibia to greater heights.”

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