• Reinstates expelled ‘rebels’
• Denies them previous positions
• Swapo to pay 60% of their legal costs
Serious flaws within the ruling party’s disciplinary machinery has been laid bare by the High Court when Judge Collins Parker ordered that the party reinstate four of its expelled youth leaders it had booted ‘unlawfully’ last year.
George Kambala, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma, Job Amupanda and Dr. Elijah Ngurare took the party to court, on the grounds that the party’s disciplinary procedures – as provided for in the party constitution – were not followed and that they were not given an opportunity to defend themselves.
The four had to endure torrid treatment from the party’s leadership since their expulsion, some even went as far as calling the four ‘rebels’.
The quartet approached the court seeking for legal intervention, they wanted the court to declare their expulsions null and void.
While delivering his 23-page judgement, Parker opposed assertions made by the legal team of the ruling party that the court is not competent to intervene in political matters.
Parker ruled that “the decision taken by the first respondent[Swapo] to deprive the applicants of their membership of 1st respondent is declared unlawful and null and void, and is set aside.”
He further ruled that Swapo must-with immediate effect, restore each applicant’s party membership.
Parker further ordered that the party should pay 60% of the applicants’ legal costs of the application, including costs of one instructing counsel and one instructed counsel.
Those in the legal circles have estimated the legal costs to be nothing less than N$1.5 million, this means Swapo will pay nothing less than N$750 000.
“In Namibia no person is entitled to disregard with impunity an order of the court. In our system every order must be obeyed unless it has been set aside by a competent court. And more important, in Namibia issues concerning justice and fairness are not seen as political matters,” he said.
Despite ordering the party to reinstate the four, he however declined to order the party to reinstate them into the positions they held prior to their axing.
“The likelihood that the respective positions the applicants held before the expulsion might have been filled by now cannot be lightly discounted. And no evidence was placed before the court tending to show that the positions are to date unoccupied,” he said.
Parker however indicated that there is nothing political about persons seeking justice.
“Any action taken must be according to set rules, if this does not happen than members will approach the courts,” Parker said.
The judge pointed that Swapo attracts people from all walks of life, therefore: “The party has the duty to mould party members for the long term viability of the party. Only where they are found to be stubborn can they be punished after all due procedures have been followed.”
“The main objective of the party’s Code of Conduct is not only punish, but also to mould party members. Doubtless shortcomings can never be synonymous with allegations,” he said.
“The applicants came to court to pursue their rights under the Constitution of Swapo. We must note that rules and procedures constitute a contract between the party and its members,” Parker pointed out, indirectly saying the ruling party violated its own constitution by not following disciplinary procedures.
The applicants were banned from engaging in party activities, despite not being accorded the opportunity to defend themselves.
The jovial crowd sang party songs after Collins delivered the judgement and posed for pictures with the applicants after the court proceedings.
Parker’s judgement was not received with much empathy by the Swapo leaders who were in court. After the judgement was delivered, Dr. Albert Kawana, a Swapo senior, told the media that the party is not new to court cases, hence the judgment will be dealt with like in the past..
He said the party will study the judgement in detail before reacting to the orders of the judge.
Maleka appeared for the plaintiffs on the instructions of Windhoek-based lawyer Amupanda Kamanja. While Vas Soni represented Swapo on the instructions of Conradie and Damaseb law firm.
The 2017 Congress
The court ruling effectively means the four members can now contest for any position in the party at next year’s elective congress.
Sources in the party said some party elders wanted to keep the four expelled members in the cold to prevent them from contesting for party positions.
“It’s an open secret that these guys have a huge following in the party, this will show next year at the Congress should they decide to contest for any position. Right now, they are in the running for any position because they are party members who can be nominated by any structure,” said the senior party source.
During the 2012 Congress, the four were against incumbent party president Hage Geingob when they supported his rival for the party’s top seat, Jerry Ekandjo.
Geingob emerged victorious at the time.
Many have also claimed that their expulsion was party of a witch-hunt campaign by the Geingob camp to get rid of them after they formed part of the rival camp in 2012.
Also, the judgement now opens another can of worms within the party’s deeply divided youth league with the return of the four.
The youth league is currently bogged down with crossfire between internal factions, one led by Nekundi and the other by followers of expelled secretary Ngurare.
SPYL denied the existence of infightings up until last year’s unprecedented expulsion of the four, before changing its song to that of calling for unity in the youth body.
Several national executive committee members have publicly expressed their opposition over central committee resolution which empowers Nekundi to act as secretary in Ngurare’s place.