Ben Ulenga

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Benjamin "Ben" Crispus Ulenga (born June 22, 1952 in Ontanga near Elim , South West Africa ) is a Namibian politician, trade union official and freedom fighter . Ben Ulenga was active alongside Sam Nujoma in the Namibian liberation struggle (1960-1989). As President and Party Chairman of the Congress of Democrats (CoD), he led the official opposition to the ruling SWAPO from 1999 to 2009 . In July 2015, he resigned from the party leadership.


Youth, Liberation Struggle and Imprisonment

Benjamin Ulenga (also Benjamin Uulenga ) was born as the son of a farmer in the small settlement Ontanga near Elim in what was then Ovamboland (now the Omusati region ). His family belongs to the tribe of Uukwambi , one of the traditional authorities of the Ovambo . By 1972 he graduated from high school in Oshigambo near Engela (today Oshikoto region ) and became a member of the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO). In 1974 Ulenga joined the People's Liberation Army PLAN (the military arm of the South West African People's Organization) and was forced into exile. Until 1975 he received military training supported by the Soviet Union in Angola . He was wounded in fighting in the Otavi Triangle in July 1976, captured and in February 1977 sentenced by the South West African Court to 15 years in prison on the South African prison island Robben Island , where Nelson Mandela was also imprisoned at the time. After the detention conditions were relaxed, he was given the opportunity to study English and history at a distance from the University of South Africa (UNISA). In 1985 he was released early from prison.

Union work and membership in the Nujoma government

From 1986 to 1991 Ulenga was general secretary of the Miners' Union (MUN) and was instrumental in rebuilding the unions in Namibia . In the ranks of SWAPO, Ulenga became a member of the Constituent Assembly of Namibia in 1989 and a member of the first Nujoma government from 1990 , first as Deputy Minister for Environment and Tourism (1991-1995), then Deputy Minister for Local and Regional Administration and Housing (1995-1996 ). From 1996 to 1998 he was Namibian High Commissioner in the United Kingdom . From 1994 to 2001 he also served in various advisory functions with the Windhoek city administration .

Break with Nujoma and political opposition

Flag of the Congress Democrats (CoD)

"Angry and disappointed" with Nujoma's constitutional amendment for his third term as President (1998) and Namibia's involvement in the Second Congo War (1998-2003), Ulenga gave up his diplomatic post in London at the end of August 1998 and resigned in March 1999 SWAPO on. At the same time he founded the Congress of Democrats (CoD) with other former SWAPO members , and he was elected party chairman and presidential candidate in August 1999. With the parliamentary election in November 1999 , in which the CoD was able to establish itself as the second strongest party with just under ten percent of the vote , Ulenga was again a member of the National Assembly , from now on in the ranks of the opposition .

Ben Ulenga was one of the strongest critics of the Nujoma government . He reproached the former president for being power-hungry, high-handed and arrogant. He accused him and his party of corruption and election fraud , criticized land reform , the economic situation in Namibia , and the government's dealings with the press and investors .

As a result of an internal power struggle with Ignatius Shixwameni , then parliamentary director of the CoD and later founder of the APP , there was a party crisis among the Congress Democrats in the course of 2007, in which numerous CoD members left their party by the end of 2007. In May 2008 Ulenga was re-confirmed as President of the CoD at an extraordinary party congress in Keetmanshoop ; in the general election in November 2009 , the party suffered massive losses. On July 20, 2015, Ben Ulenga resigned from the party's chairmanship.

Ulenga has been a lecturer at the Law Faculty of the University of Namibia (UNAM) since 2001 . Ben Ulenga is married and has five children. He lives in Windhoek with his wife Nambata .

Presidential candidacy

In the 1999 elections , Ulenga ran for the first time as a presidential candidate. With just under 10.5 percent of the vote, he came in second. In the 2004 presidential election in Namibia , his approval rating dropped to a little more than seven percent. In 2009 , only 0.72 percent of Namibia's electorate voted for him. In the 2014 presidential election , Ulenga only won 0.39 percent of the vote.


  • Christoph Emminghaus: Political Parties in the Democratization Process: Structure and Function of African Party Systems . Leske + Budrich, Wiesbaden, 2003

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Klaus Dierks : Biographies of Namibian Personalities . Namibia Library by Dr.-Ing. Klaus Dierks. 2003. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  2. More and more arrogant . In: Der Spiegel . No. 48 , 1999 ( online ).
  3. Ben Ulenga in the Munzinger Archive , retrieved from the Internationales Biographisches Archiv 25/2001 on June 11, 2001 ( beginning of the article freely accessible)
  4. CoD declares war on Swapo ( Memento from February 21, 2013 in the web archive )
  5. Namibia is not the Swapo ( Memento from February 21, 2013 in the web archive )
  6. ^ CoD crisis escalates . General newspaper. May 18, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  7. ^ Daniela Schöneburg-Schultz: Ade CoD, says Ignatius Shixwameni . General newspaper. December 17, 2007. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
  8. Allgemeine Zeitung , July 22, 2015