|Amathila, Ben -|
|Swapo veteran Ben Amathila resigned as a member of the National Assembly (NA) and as the party’s Chief Whip in April 2007. In his farewell speech in parliament, Amathila referred to divisions within Swapo, saying: “I have the conviction that at this point in time, given the fear that people have about what is happening in Swapo, it is only Comrade Sam Nujoma, the President of Swapo, who can restore the situation in Swapo” (The Namibian, April 19 2007). However, he did not specifically say he was resigning because of problems within the party.
Amathila is one of only a handful of ministers to be dropped from Cabinet since independence and the only one to remain an MP for a considerable time afterwards. President Sam Nujoma did not reappoint the Swapo veteran in 2000 after Amathila had served as Minister of Trade and Industry (1990-93) and Minister of Information and Broadcasting (1993-2000).
Exactly why Amathila was dropped in 2000 remains unclear, although the turning point in his post-independence political career appears to have been a week-long stand-off with Nujoma in 1993, when he was initially reluctant to accept the switch to the Information portfolio.
Amathila first became active in Swapo’s forerunner – the Ovamboland People’s Organisation (OPO) – in Walvis Bay in 1959. He was a political mobiliser for Swapo in the 1960s before leaving for exile in 1966. Amathila played a key role in organising Swapo’s consultative congress at Tanga, Tanzania in 1969.
After a stint as Swapo’s representative in Scandanavia, Amathila was chosen as Swapo Secretary for Economics in 1976, at first based in Lusaka and later in Luanda.
Despite his demotion from Cabinet he has remained popular within the party. He came eighth in the voting for the Central Committee at the 2002 Swapo Congress and is still a member of the party’s Politburo.
President Hifikepunye Pohamba re-appointed Amathila as Swapo’s Chief Whip in the NA in March 2005. He was one of five MPs chosen in 2004 to represent Namibia in the Pan African Parliament, which only has advisory powers.
On his retirement, Amathila said he would concentrate on his farm near Omaruru in the Erongo region and write his “political autobiography” (The Namibian, April 17 2007).
According to the Register of Members’ Interests for 2003, Amathila has a 40 percent shareholding in Atlan Fishing, which, through the ATAB Fisheries Consortium, is a shareholder in Blue Ocean Products. He is married to Libertina Amathila.
|Born on October 1 1938 at Walvis Bay in the Erongo region.|
|Augustineum Training College, Okahandja (1954-58). Rhenish Mission School, Tsumeb (1954).|
|Swapo Chief Whip in National Assembly (2000-2007). Minister of Information and Broadcasting (1993-2000). Minister of Trade and Industry (1990-93). National Assembly MP (1990-2007). Member of Constituent Assembly (1989-90). Head of Swapo’s Regional Election Directorate in Swakopmund (1989). Swapo Secretary for Economics (1976-89). Swapo Representative to Scandanavia, West Germany and Austria, based in Stockholm, Sweden (1971-76).|