• Swapo goes to Congress divided
• Disgruntled delegates threaten to boycott Congress
• Test of unity for Team Harambee and Team Swapo
• Litmus test for Geingob to eliminate factions
It has long been rumoured that unity is a farce in the ruling party, and with Swapo Party set to have its Extraordinary Congress this weekend, it appears the battle lines have been drawn again amongst factions.
The party has undertaken a long, messy and unsuccessful unification process since the 2017 Congress and it hoped to go into the extraordinary congress as a united front, especially with the national polls being one year away.
But the Team Swapo and Team Harambee battle continues unabated despite repeated calls by party president Dr. Hage Geingob calling for the factions to smoke the peace pipe and hold hands. Some Team Swapo members accused Geingob of practising double standards by preaching unity yet Team Harambee members are purging Team Swapo members.
Just this week, the party found itself in court after disgruntled members attempted to get an interdict to block this weekend’s convention to take place.
Sources in the party charge that Geingob’s unity talks are a smokescreen that hides his willingness to sacrifice unity at the altar of political expediency.
The real significance of this extraordinary congress is that it will be another venue for the ongoing contest between the two factions in the party.
Swapo secretary general Sophia Shaningwa has been having sleepless nights of late with local authority councillors taking the fight to her doorstep by openly defying her directives.
Shaningwa wrote to all local authorities informing them of the changes she wishes to see on the council in terms of who should occupy positions such as mayor, deputy mayor and management committee chairperson amongst others.
Several councils feel the decision to decide who should serve in one or another capacity should be left in the hands of the regional leadership as stipulated in the Rules and Procedures document which deals with the election of office bearers.
On Page 50 of the document, it is stated that the “district executive committee shall identify a number of candidates larger than the required number of the composition of the local authority in question and shall subject such candidate to an election at the district conference. On Page 57, it also reads that “any party member who directly or indirectly circulates a list of preferred candidate contrary to the laid down procedure shall be guilty of misconduct” .
On Wednesday, Swapo councillors in Okahandja also disobeyed Shaningwa when they voted for Johannes Hindjou to retain the Mayoral chain despite Shaningwa’s directive calling for his axing. The meeting degenerated into chaos without any swearing in taking place. All eyes are now on Shaningwa to see which decision she will take against the defiant councillors.
In an unprecedented attack, Shaningwa recalled all Swapo Councillors in Oshakati after they defied her directive.
The Oshakati Town Council’s councillors were caught pants down after the party recalled them for defying an order to install the town’s former mayor Onesmus Shilunga as chairperson of the management committee.
In place of Shilunga, the ruling party councillors allegedly voted in favour of Katrina Shimbulu as chairperson of the management committee, contradicting the party directive.
Shimbulu, who also served as mayor, has been an ordinary member for the last two years.
A letter addressed to Swapo’s Oshana regional coordinator Samuel Nelongo from party secretary general Sophia Shaningwa, it is stated that the councillors were dismissed because of their non-compliance with her directive.
“You are hereby directed to inform all local authority councillors at Oshakati Town Council on the Swapo ticket that they are withdrawn from being local authority councillors with immediate effect until further notice,” the letter reads.
The extraordinary congress was in limbo this week after two party members approached the High Court seeking a court order to prevent the extra ordinary congress from taking place.
Swapo members Mirjam Shituula and Selma Namboga this week failed in their bid to have the extraordinary congress stopped in the High Court.
The two also want last year’s congress to be nullified.
The attempt to stop Swapo from convening the extraordinary congress was withdrawn by their legal team after judge Thomas Masuku ruled that they should have cited all persons with an interest in the entire matter as respondents when they instituted legal action against Swapo and Shaningwa.
But although they withdrew their application for an interdict to block the congress, the duo will continue with the second part of their application, which is to have the entire 2017 Congress set aside.
South African senior counsel Griffits Madonsela, who represented Shituula and Namboga, told judge Masuku they were withdrawing the first part of their application following a ruling in which the judge upheld an argument by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi who represented Shaningwa and Swapo.
Ngcukaitobi argued it would be unfair for the court to give an order that would have an impact on party officeholders like the Swapo president and members of the central committee when none of them were involved in the case, because they had not been cited as parties to the matter.
Ngcukaitobi was relentless as he argued strongly why judge Masuku should grant an order which will compel Shituula and Nambogo to pay the party’s costs.
Judge Masuku will deliver a cost order at the status hearing set for 6 December 2018.
What to expect
This weekend’s Congress is merely to amend the party constitution in order to harmonise party structures in terms of operations.
The most notable amendment is that of gender balance, which is likely to have extensive implications once implementation starts. The amendment stipulates a 50:50 gender representation in the CC.
Under the new constitution, all party structures will be compelled to comply with the 50:50 gender representation requirement by adopting a zebra style electoral system.
This means that some men will have to drop out to give way for women, even if they have won.
This amendment also affects all party structures from section, branch, district, regional to national levels, through to the upper most structures, including the top four leaders.
The Patriot understands that there will not be any new items on the agenda.
At the last central committee meeting, Geingob is said to have blocked a bid by the womens league, youth league and elders council to have their new constitutions adopted at this weekend’s indaba.
Dr. Albert Kawana is said to have brought up the matter during the meeting and motivated why the constitutions of the three wings should be part of the extraordinary congress.