The current chaos and disunity in the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) has served as a reminder of what can happen when the leadership of political parties descends into an authoritarian party. And while there are still question marks over whether Jeremiah Nambinga will actually unite and grow the party, the situation internally is actually an indicator of the RDP’s much bigger set of problems.
If you browse through the party’s leadership structures one by one, it is pretty clear that many of them contain the same, or similar, elements of serial mistrust which led to Nambinga dragging his comrades to court. Although he won the court case last week, this does not mean all is well, but it does indicate exactly how divided the party is.
The Windhoek High Court, in a ruling handed down by Judge Shafimana Ueitele, issued an order that decisions taken during a meeting by the members of the RDP’s national executive committee (NEC) on 12 August 2017 in which a vote of no confidence in Nambinga’s leadership style was tabled for discussion, are unlawful and invalid.
In addition, all decisions passed by the NEC at the meeting in respect of a vote of no confidence in Nambinga’s leadership style, which was planned for discussion during the weekend of 3 to 5 November 2017, were declared unlawful and invalid.
Furthermore, the RDP and its NEC members were ordered to pay Nambinga’s legal costs on top of the costs of their own lawyers.
Some senior RDP members called for Nambinga to resign last year and even went as far as tabling a motion of no confidence in his leadership, pointing to the declining support base.
Nambinga has also been accused of arrogance and failing to acknowledge waning support for the RDP.
RDP founding president Hidipo Hamutenya’s departure from the party can be linked to the brouhaha in the party. Generally speaking, the problems all come down to the same issue: different groups and factions are contesting for power in the party and the conflicts cannot be swept under the carpet of unity anymore.
While Nambinga claimed court victory, the same cannot be said for the party he is leading.
RDP vice president Steve Bezuidenhoudt this week told this publication that Nambinga’s challenge will be to fully unite the party.
“His court victory means nothing if it does not translate into party unity. The claims he is making in public about his colleagues in the party holds no truth,” said the RDP VP.
Bezuidenhoudt added: “I am being accused of having been part of a plot to get rid of HH during his time as president because I apparently wanted to takeover, yet when HH left I did not even contest to succeed him. If I wanted to be president I would have contested for presidency at the congress that elected Nambinga.”
Bezuidenhoudt said he will quit active politics once his term in parliament ends.
Nambinga said he has no problem working with his adversaries.
“We will continue as usual. Remember we had a NEC meeting during the court case, so things will continue as they did before. I cannot speak on behalf of the others, but I believe in unity of purpose.
We need to move the affairs of the party forward in unison,” he said. A party source told The Patriot that “the party is technically bankrupt”. Due to cash-shortages, RDP had to postpone its central committee meeting. The meeting was supposed to be a precursor for the party’s upcoming elective congress.
Nambinga said the party’s congress will be held in December, which will be followed by the electoral college.
“These events cost about N$700 000 each to host, where will that money come from. The party has no revenue streams apart from the political party funding we receive from parliament. The future does not look so promising,” said the source.
Following the party’s diminishing support base and influence on national affairs, questions have been raised as to whether RDP still follows its centre-left politics ideology. According to the global online search engine Wikipedia: “Those on the centre-left believe in working within the established systems to improve social justice. The centre-left promotes a degree of social equality that it believes is achievable through promoting equal opportunity.”
“The centre-left has promoted luck egalitarianism, which emphasizes the achievement of equality requires personal responsibility in areas in control by the individual person through their abilities and talents, as well as social responsibility in areas outside control by the individual person in their abilities or talents,” according to Wikipedia.