In the midst of the debate as to which camp between Team Swapo Party and Team Hage will emerge victorious on 27 November 2014, analysts maintain that the race for power at the highly anticipated 6th Swapo elective congress remains wide open and will only be decided by the secret ballot.
With two weeks to go before Swapo holds its congress, the public have been accustomed to a series of regional endorsements of certain candidates or faction over the other.
Whether the endorsements are imposed or are done at the will of the respective regions and Swapo wings remains to seen.
What is clear however is, in the public domain, Team Hage seems to be in the driving seat ahead of congress on the grounds that a majority of regional coordinators and party wings endorsed President Hage Geingob and his ‘slate’ as their preferred team to lead Swapo for the next five years.
For Geingob’s protagonists, victory is certain at the upcoming congress due to the endorsements.
Antagonists on the other hand are firm in their resolve that the fate of Swapo’s leadership can only be decided by the secret ballot and by individual delegates.
Those who hold this view believe that in as much as regional coordinators, Swapo stalwarts and party wings are “intimidated” to endorse a specific candidate in public, the race for power remains undecided.
As it stands, Geingob handpicked team, dubbed ‘slate’ is composed of President Geingob as its presidential candidate, international relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as vice president, urban minister Sophia Shaningwa as secretary general while Marko Hausiku is the vying for the deputy secretary general’s position.
The team trading as ‘Team Swapo Party’ is led by former Premier Nahas ‘Katusha’ Angula and sport minister Jerry Ekandjo as presidential candidates.
Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Helmut Angula are gunning for the position of vice presidents under the auspices of Team Swapo Party.
Youthful Oshikoto regional coordinator Armas Amukwiyu is Team Swapo’s candidate for the position of secretary general.
Meanwhile, for the deputy SG, the Angula-Ekandjo-led camp has Parliamentarian Petrina Haingura and businesswoman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun.
As a consequence, The Patriot embarked on a journey to find out whether or not the factionalism and endorsements have an impact on the democratic sovereignty of the over 700 delegates and their ability to exercise their conscience and free will when electing the ruling party’s leadership.
During the interviews, one commonality could be deduced from the experts: the endorsements have little, if anything, to do with the outcome of the elective congress.
In an interview this week, political analyst Uazuva Kaumbi branded the endorsements “a more public relations exercise”.
“The good thing is that because it’s a secret ballot, more or less the endorsement is nullified by the whole process of the secret ballot and that is where the democratic independence of the delegates comes in,” Kaumbi said.
He added that when delegates go to congress “they don’t vote as a bloc” and “the delegate will be sitting there[in voting booth] by himself or herself and draw that cross” to vote for their preferred candidate.
Throughout the interview, Kaumbi was convinced that the delegates themselves had the final say in who will emerge victorious at congress.
“There is a false belief that by having these endorsements is to influence the court of public opinion if you wish. And through that, you also influence the congress delegates (because) if they see that there’s a chorus of endorsement for a particular slate, then everybody will be induced to think that they must also vote that particular slate,” Kaumbi stressed.
Sharing similar sentiments with Kaumbi was Constitutional Law expert, Professor Nico Horn who said what delegates say in the public domain does not reflect what will happen at congress.
“Whenever a party has a secret ballot, the constituency can say what they like. But in the end I[delegate] can follow my own conscience. That’s the beauty of a secret ballot which is much better that when you have to raise your hand. In that case, there is a big chance of manipulation. But the Swapo constitution specifically says that the voting is by secret ballot.
“The leaders of the constituency can say what they like but who knows what I am voting?”
Horn went on to use the vote of no confidence which was passed against President Jacob Zuma in the South African Parliament earlier this year as a classic example.
“63 members of the ANC voted in favour of the vote of no confidence. But nobody knew who they were. There was a big cry out from the ANC, they said we will smell you out. We will get rid of you. [But] they couldn’t find out. It was a secret ballot,” he said.