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Profile of Comrade Jerry Ekandjo
- Candidate for SWAPO Party Vice President
- "Peace, Unity for People-Centred Development"


Full name: Jerry Lukiiko "Maudjuu" Ekandjo Date of birth: 17 March 1947 Place of birth: Windhoek Religion: Christian Family: Married to Loide Ndapewa Ekandjo and have three children - namely, Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma Ekandjo, Jacobine Kashinga Ndilimeke Ekandjo and Kristofina Kawiitongwa Ekandjo

Resume: SWAPO Party Member of the Central Committee and Political Bureau, Member of the National Assembly, Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural development.

a) Who is Jerry Ekandjo?

Comrade Jerry Lukiiko "Maudjuu" Ekandjo was born in Windhoek on 17 March 1947, grew up in Okahandja, Otjozondjupa Region. He started school in Windhoek in 1957. Before completing his education, Comrade Ekandjo was expelled from school due to his political activities. Apart from English, Comrade Ekandjo speaks several Namibians languages such as Oshiwambo, Afrikaans, Damara/Nama and Otjiherero.

Comrade Ekandjo is a humble and down to earth leader. He has the interest of the Namibian people at heart. The notorious and inhuman political system of apartheid, which governed every aspect of life in Namibia until 1990, has not managed to influence and change his patriotic stand.

Like most Namibians, Jerry had to make choices at an early age, either to join the liberation struggle under SWAPO to fight and free his motherland or sit on the fence and watch others fight for him. He chose to fight and face the brutal, colonial, racist regime head-on. Comrade Ekandjo joined SWAPO on 27 May 1969.

Since then, he has remained loyal and unwavering in his defence of Party and the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia. Being a determined and dedicated SWAPO cadre, he rose through the ranks playing different roles as a leader both in the youth league and the mother body. It is, therefore, not by surprise that Comrade Ekandjo is today a candidate for Vice Presidency of the SWAPO Party.

b) SWAPO, Prison and Banishment

Merely a year after joining SWAPO, Comrade Ekandjo was elected Branch Chairperson of Walvis Bay. In 1971, Comrade Ekandjo became SWAPO Youth League Walvis Bay Branch Chairperson. It was during these years that Comrade Ekandjo's heroic character as a visionary, political activist and leader was manifested. Between 1971 and 1972, he was a major player in organizing the famous countrywide workers' strikes, which crippled the foreignowned and controlled industries. His political activism was not without risks. In January 1973, he was arrested while addressing a SWAPO Youth League political rally at Walvis Bay. Comrade Ekandjo was severely beaten. The racist police used dirty tricks to hide evidence of the beatings. Such beatings were inflicted in a way that injuries could not be visible to a naked eye - basically leaving no obvious evidence. The perpetrators cunningly targeted lower parts of the body, avoiding the face.

All political prisoners of apartheid regime were brutalised in this manner. In fact, this was how the late Comrade Steve Bantubonke Biko was murdered by the apartheid South African Police. In one of the trials at Swakopmund, Comrade Ekandjo defied all the instructions of the racist court as, in his view, it was illegal in Namibia.

In one instance, the court ordered everyone to rise. Comrade Ekandjo remained seated. When he was called to give an oath, he still refused. Instead of the oath, he raised the power salute in protest of what he believed to be the court's lack of jurisdiction to try him. Comrade Ekandjo declared that "we refuse to be tried here, because this court is a temple of the devil" much to the ire of the racist magistrate. There was chaos. The court proceedings lasted no more than ten minutes.

Comrade Ekandjo never had the opportunity to defend his case or answer to the charges brought against him by the apartheid regime. The apartheid court spared him no mercy. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment.

Upon his release, he was deported back to Windhoek. He was subsequently declared a persona non-grata in Walvis Bay. Undeterred by his treatment at the brutal hands of the police, Comrade Ekandjo became SWAPO Party Youth League Windhoek Branch chairperson in 1973. Shortly thereafter, he and eleven other youth league leaders organised and addressed a mass political rally in the then black township of Katutura. In the Windhoek Advertiser edition of August 1973, the then editor, Hannes Smith described Comrade Ekandjo as "the Martin Luther King Jr of South West Africa" because of his charismatic and oratory talents. The comparison to Dr King by a white journalist is itself instructive.

Even a white journalist of the dark days of apartheid was so impressed that he could not help but equate this eloquent mobiliser and freedom fighter to the internationally-acclaimed Dr King. Shortly after the newspaper report appeared, Jerry Ekandjo and two others were arrested. Appearing before a Windhoek magistrate, Ekandjo told the court that "you can arrest us, beat us and even kill us but the youth of Namibia will liberate this country at all cost".

Comrade Ekandjo believed that Namibia would be free and independent by 1974. His optimism was not at all misplaced. The collapse and demise of the Portuguese empire, which led to the independence of our neighbour Angola and other Portuguese colonies such as Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe in formed his view. The collapse of the empire paved the way for a mass exodus of young Namibians heading for exile through Angola and Zambia from 1974.

Comrade Ekandjo and comrades Martin Kapewasha and Jacob Shidika were sentenced to eight years in imprisonment for their role in the mass mobilization of the Namibian people. They were transferred to the notorious Robben Island to serve their sentences. On the Island, Cde Jerry met liberation stalwarts and icons such as Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, John Otto Nankudhu (Commander of Ongulumbashe) Eliaser Tuhadeleni aka Kaxumba Kandola, Petrus Nangolo Iilonga, Kaleb Tjipuahura, Lazarus Guibeb as well as South Africa's legendary freedom fighter and first black President, Nelson Mandela and his ANC comrades.

c) Release from Robben Island and UN resolution 435

Robben Island was to be a test for Comrade Ekandjo. The prison warders were barbaric, brutal, cruel and heartless racists.

Robben Island became internationally known for its institutional brutality. The duty of those who ran Robben Island and the Robben Island prison was to isolate opponents of apartheid and to crush their morale. Comrade Ekandjo understood he was on Robben Island because of his beliefs and convictions. He succeeded, on a psychological and political level in turning a prison "hell-hole" into a symbol of freedom and liberation for his country and its people. Robben Island came to symbolise the triumph of the human spirit over enormous hardship and adversity.

Upon his release from Robben Island in November 1981, Comrade Ekandjo went back to doing exactly what the South African regime had imprisoned him for. Clearly, Robben Island had not tamed him. While in prison on Robben Island, Comrade Ekandjo and few of his comrades were invited by the SWAPO leadership to join Comrade Sam Nujoma who led the powerful delegation to the Geneva talks on the independence of Namibia. His application for a passport to travel to the Geneva talks of 1981 was turned down by the apartheid regime.

In 1984, however, he was allowed to travel to Lusaka for talks organised by the First President of the Republic of Zambia and one of Africa's legendary freedom fighters, Comrade Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. Around that time, Comrade Ekandjo and other comrades organised a welcoming reception at the mountains of Döbra for Cassinga detainees who had just been released from the apartheid concentration camp at Kaikanaxab near Mariental in the Hardap Region. Once again, the notorious security forces pounced on him. He was arrested and sent to Osire Detention Camp with his comrades. On 30 November 1986, Comrade Ekandjo and others had organised a meeting in Katutura.

It is at that meeting where Comrade Immanuel Shifidi was brutally murdered by the apartheid security forces. In and outside the country, Comrade Shifidi's murder changed the course of history. But the brutal murder of Comrade Shifidi did not in any way deter Comrade Ekandjo from the fight for the liberation struggle. He understood that South Africa was determined to derail the Namibian independence process at all cost. Still in 1986, Comrade Ekandjo became the SWAPO Youth League Secretary of the Internal Leadership (Home Front).

His candidature to the position of Vice President of the SWAPO Party was proposed and nominated by the very youth wing he had led and inspired during the dark days of apartheid colonial oppression. Serving as a leader of the SWAPO Youth League was a trying and testing period for Comrade Ekandjo. The intimidation, harassment and the imprisonment were at their highest peak during those years. As a result, party structures were somewhat dormant. In 1987, when Comrade Ekandjo became the SWAPO Secretary for Information and Publicity of the Home Front, he immediately went to work to revitalise the party structures.

With many restrictions imposed by the apartheid regime, Comrade Ekandjo had the responsibility to communicate information to the people who were not allowed to receive such information. With a few exceptions, the media were also in connivance with the regime.

While teaching in Gibeon at the African Methodist Episcopal School (AMES) - the school founded by fellow liberation struggle stalwart, the late Reverend Hendrik Witbooi, Comrade Ekandjo helped to inspire many young people. As a result, some of them fled for exile to wage the liberation struggle. It was during Comrade Ekandjo's time at AMES that the SWAPO Youth League Central Committee took a decision that he must resign his teaching job to concentrate on the full time work of the movement. He obliged.

d) Independence and Nation-Building As the years went by, Comrade Ekandjo assumed more prominent roles within the movement.

He was appointed SWAPO Party Deputy Head of Voter Education during the 1989 United Nations' supervised elections for Namibia's independence. SWAPO, subsequently, won that election. He became a member of the Constituent Assembly, a body that drafted Namibia's Constitution. In 1990, the Constituent Assembly was transformed into the first National Assembly. Comrade Ekandjo has been a member of the National Assembly since then. In 1991, he was elected to the Central Committee of the SWAPO Party.

In 1990, President Sam Nujoma appointed Comrade Ekandjo as the first Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing, serving in that portfolio until 1995. He then became Minister of Home Affairs overseeing civic affairs, immigration, prison services and the police. He served ten years in that position before his appointment as Minister of Lands and Resettlement on 21 March 2005. Following the 1997 SWAPO Congress, Comrade Ekandjo was elected to the Political Bureau and has been a member since then. In 2008, President Hifikepunye Pohamba appointed Comrade Ekandjo to his current portfolio as Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development.

At the August 2002 SWAPO Party Congress, he received the highest number of votes, tying with current Prime Minister Comrade Nahas Angula in the election to the Central Committee of SWAPO Party. Cementing his popularity in the Party, he again received the highest number of votes in the election for the SWAPO Party Central Committee at the November 2007 Congress. On 27 January 2008, he was elected as SWAPO Secretary for Information and Publicity at a Central Committee meeting - a position he occupies to date. It is during his tenure as Secretary for Information and Mobilisation that SWAPO Party repeatedly won two-thirds majority and SWAPO Party overwhelmingly swept the Local and Regional Council Elections. Throughout his political career, Comrade Jerry Ekandjo has preached the simple message of non-tribalism, non-racialism and equal opportunities for all, Land redistribution among those that possess land and the dispossessed majority.

e) The Road Ahead Comrade Ekandjo does not propagate an

"Ekandjonomics". He believes in continuity with the accelerated implementation of the SWAPO Party manifesto as well the realisation of the country's Vision 2030. He stands for the manifestation of the SWAPO Party Economic Struggle as contained in the Political Programme - namely, solidarity with the down trodden, freedom for the oppressed and social justice for the disadvantaged. Accordingly, bringing about social justice in our society requires the adoption and implementation of progressive policies aimed at creating equality of opportunity in all spheres of human life in Namibia. These policies, inter alia, are rural development, land re-distribution especially in urban areas, access to quality education and health care, and infrastructure development.

Specifically, Comrade Jerry Ekandjo will continue and improve on the:

- Promotion of full and active participation of all the Namibian people, especially the colonially-disadvantaged majority, in the process of economic reconstruction and development through the encouragement of initiative and creativity in economic activities such as small scale industries, cooperatives and joint ventures, as well as, job creation in the informal sector of the economy;

- Work for full social justice in the distribution of the resources, wealth, promotion of efficiency and proper management of the human and natural resources;

- Encouragement of communities and individuals to strive for a decent quality of life through the acquisition of new skills and the introduction of new techniques of production; - Work for the acceleration of economic growth;

- Fight to ensure that the policy directive on affirmative action is effectively implemented to uplift the victims of apartheid colonialism;

- Directing the government to work out the best mechanism of effecting land reform;

- Work towards the achievement of economic democracy, and greater prosperity for all;

- Promotion of a monetary and financial policy geared towards the promotion of full employment, a high rate of economic growth and stable currency; and

- Promotion of the integration of the informal with the formal sector of the economy

In his resolve for unity, peace, people-centred development, and unwavering loyalty to the Namibian people and the SWAPO Party, Comrade Jerry Ekandjo summons the very same leadership qualities that are obvious in his mentor and idol, Comrade Dr Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma, the Founding President and Father of the Namibian Nation possess.

Watching President Pohamba's conciliatory style of leadership, Cde Jerry is not short of role models that will influence his own stewardship of the country.

COMRADE JERRY EKANDJO IS A CANDIDATE FOR VICE-PRESIDENT OF SWAPO PARTY





CONTACTS

SWAPO Headquarters Mandume Strt
Windhoek, Katutura