Dr. Itula’s insistence on running as an independent candidate while retaining his affiliation and membership to a party he has dedicated his entire life to (a period exceeding 40 years which includes periods of political incarceration) is provided for in Chapter 2 of the SWAPO Party Constitution dealing with Affiliate membership for organizations who accept the aims and objectives of the SWAPO PARTY.
A democratic system of organization and governance to which SWAPO subscribes according to Chapter 1 Article III (3) of the Party’s Constitution, is a system whereby the majority decision carries. However, it is not a given that the majority is always right.
Therefore, Dr. Itula should be applauded for being that lone wolf crying out in the wilderness and has managed to draw attention to the fact that there is a leadership deficit within the ruling party that threatens its very existence; beyond the life span of its founding members who continue to leave us on a more frequent basis towards their final resting place at the Heroes Acre. It is impossible to accurately predict how political strategies could manifest once set into motion and it came as a surprise that once the political seed of running as an independent candidate had been planted, the youth latched on and carried the torch further.
By signaling their availability to contest at constituency level in the upcoming 2020 Regional and Local government elections, they have shocked the ruling party into creating space for more youth participation at constituency level in order to counter the offensive from those who will be running as independents.
The identity politics fuelled by the youth divide has given space to SWAPO’s overlooked youth to now be able to contest against other youth who will be running as independent candidates.
The SWAPO youth have Dr. Itula to thank for placing himself as a sacrificial lamb in pursuit of democratic ideals upon which the SWAPO Party and SWAPO Constitution is founded. The aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and to avoid the tyranny of the majority.
That is what Dr. Itula has managed to execute successfully by shaking up the herd mentality which is characteristic of the Namibian political space where leaders are accustomed to being followed without question.
According to Chapter 2 Article 4 of the SWAPO Party constitution, membership may only be terminated through resignation or expulsion (under article VI and VII).
It thus follows that no member has a right to demand that another member resign.
Those who are bullying Dr. Itula into resigning from the Party stand in contradiction to the provisions of the Party constitution which allows for its members “to promote and exercise criticism without fear and self-criticism with a view to overcoming defects, errors or deviation in the Party”.
Such defect(s), error(s) and deviation(s) are those emanating from the SWAPO Party Congress.
Those who were dissatisfied with the outcome of the elections that took place at the Congress were not afforded a platform from which they could air their grievances. They were subsequently coerced and rushed into accepting the outcome despite matters of concern they had raised under the guise of maintaining Party unity.
Since Dr. Itula’s pronouncement on the viability of having an independent candidate from the ruling party, he has received a lot of backlash from seasoned academics who have questioned how he would formulate a government in the event that he wins such an election.
He could pick from members of the national assembly without being confined to the political dilly dallying of a President who has to appoint gross incompetence to appease constituents who hold sway in the Party.
In that regard having an independent candidate is ideal and should not be shot down as being absurd. Chairman of Law Reform and Development Commission Yvonne Dausab and her sidekick intern Hermann Nakwatumbah recently authored a piece in a Namibian daily titled “The imperatives of Independent Candidacy”.
Which law experts have brushed off as a useless attempt at joining the anti- Itula bandwagon without addressing the constitutionality (both SWAPO and Namibia) of why Dr. Itula cannot stand as an independent candidate whilst holding on to his SWAPO membership. Commentary by seasoned legal practitioners question the integrity and sincerity of well known academics Nico Horn, Henning Melber who joined Yvonne Dauseb and Hermann Nakatumbwa in offering commentary that paints Dr. Itula in a negative light by questioning the viability of having an independent candidate without delving into the constitutional provisions that allow for such an arrangement to take place.
It remains to be seen whether Dr. Itula will contest the upcoming November Parliamentary and Presidential elections as an independent candidate which he will in all likelihood lose if he decides to.
However the fact remains that he has shaken the table and paved the way for other aspiring candidates to contest in elections without being bound to conforming to the established order where political Party’s have abused their majority to trample on the rights of the minority. (E.g. the demolishing of people’s shacks every time winter sets in.)
Vitalio Angula is a socio-political commentator and independent columnist, the views therein do not reflect those of the this publication.