…but no one is in charge
By Staff Reporter
As the race for the 96 slots on Swapo’s parliamentary list takes shape and grows increasingly bitter; the camps, those with the economic muscle to buy their way into parliament and the powers that be, have all positioned themselves to eliminate each other to ensure that only their kith and kin make it the list of potential National Assembly members.
Although the gospel of unity has been preached, it is clearly not visible on the ground where division and factionalism are very much alive.
The hangover of the watershed elective congress where two factions, Team Harambee and Team Swapo faced off tooth and nails for Swapo’s heart and soul continues to haunt the ruling party.
Senior members of the ruling party called for a postmortem – an exercise that would have reviewed events pre and post the congress – to allow the two factions to make amends and move forward in unison as a party. These calls fell on deaf ears.
What followed was the purging from positions of influence of those who sided with Team Swapo the congress.
A last-minute attempt by Oshikoto Regional coordinator in Oshikoto, Armas Amukwiyu to have the subject of unity discussed among Swapo cadres was also shut down by its leader, President Hage Geingob during the party’s extraordinary congress last year.
Geingob maintained that unity in the party was as solid as a rock and that only a few disgruntled individuals within the party were holding a grudge for losing at the congress that saw him ascend to party presidency.
This week, however, chickens are coming home to roost.
Swapo, again, is at war with itself.
As late as 19h00 last night, some regions were still unsure if they would be represented due to disputes and alleged irregularities linked to the selection of delegates.
At the heart of this dispute is Swapo’s chief administrator, Secretary-General Sophia Shaningwa who has stated that under her watch, the running of Swapo will either been done according to her way or the high way.
It is either party members toe the line in the form of Shaningwa’s rigmarole of directives which are more often than not politically motivated, but without a legal basis. Last week, Shaningwa directed five regions – Khomas, Otjozondjupa, Omaheke, Erongo and //Kharas – to reconvene their conference to draw up a new list of delegates.
Her directives were defied.
Mbako vs Shaningwa
Khomas’ regional coordinator Elliot Mbako was adamant that they followed all procedures when elected their delegates for the electoral college.
“Comrade secretary-general, your conclusion is premised on the reading of the Swapo Party Rules and Procedures in isolation from the constitution.
Therefore, such a conclusion is impaired. A reminder [is] that the rules and procedures do not prescribe how a regional conference should be held, rather just a mention thereof. Such powers are constitutionally conferred,” Mbako said in a letter to Shaningwa on Monday.
He added the party’s supreme law dictates a regional executive committee (REC) is responsible for the overall activities in the region, and not Shaningwa.
“It [REC] will stick to its earlier decision of the extraordinary regional conference that was held on 20 August 2019 in line with the Swapo Party constitution,” Mbako concluded.
The initial list of delegates from Khomas – which Shaningwa now wants to be nullified – is composed of City of Windhoek councillors Ian Subasubani and Paulus Immanuel, businesswoman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, Sacky Uunona, Queen Kamati, and Saara Kandapo.
The refusal by the Mbako-led Khomas to bow to Shaningwa’s demands has seemingly landed them in hot waters.
The region has now placed itself on the verge of exclusion from participating in the intraparty election on the weekend.
“Should the Swapo Party Khomas regional leadership decide to continue defying the decisions above, it stands to be excluded from participating in the electoral college slated for 06-08 September 2019. I, therefore, implore to strictly adhere to the two directives,” Shaningwa’s lieutenant, Marco Hausiku threatened Mbako on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Justice Minister Sacky Shanghala, stepped in to rescue the situation in a bid to avoid the party leadership and the threatened Khomas delegates from squaring off in court.
In a 32-page letter addressed to National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi who is the leader assigned by Swapo to oversee the Khomas Region, Shanghala pleaded to the party leadership to revisit its position.
The letter in which he also sought clarity was copied to Geingob, Shaningwa and Hausiku.
The letter emanates from a meeting of assigned national leaders to Khomas Region and its Regional Executive Committee (REC) on Monday and a subsequent REC meeting the following day.
“At the former meeting (of September 2, 2019), after you left, we were confronted with questions from the Regional Executive Committee such as: What did we (the Regional Executive Committee) do wrong? What ought we (the Regional Executive Committee) to do or to have done?
In what stator provisions of the Swapo Party Constitution, Swapo Party Rules should we do is sought of us and is such correct?
Will be given an opportunity to what we did or will we simply comply and to what exactly?” Shanghala wrote.
Shanghala made it clear to Katjavivi that the questions raised by the Khomas REC were bona fide.
As a consequence, the Mbako-led group is firm in its resolve that it will not reconvene their conference for they have not erred.
Should they be barred from partaking in the ‘pot’ as per Hausiku’s letter, the group will resort to the courts to have the entire exercise interdicted and put on hold, a situation Shanghala wants to be avoided at all cost.
“Noting that tensions are rising, and with a view to avert a situation where the affected members and delegates of the electoral college feel left with no other option but to resort to the courts of law to assert their rights, rightly or wrongly, I suggested that perhaps it would assist leadership if it were presented with a clear articulation of what had transpired in the Swapo Party structures in the Khomas Region to assist decision making,” Shanghala advised.
Shanghala then reminded the Swapo leadership that the organisation is governed within the ambits of its constitution.
He continued: “It is for this reason that I implore you to engage the leadership and seek the necessary guidance for the Khomas Region. It should be remembered that as has been stated in many legal cases involving the Swapo Party that the party remains an administrative body, bound by its constitution, rules, procedures and practices and is subject to review if it breaches its contract with its members.”
On Thursday night, the Khomas REC and Swapo leadership were locked up in a meeting at the party’s headquarters and had not reached a consensus yet.
At this meeting, it was resolved that an urgent extraordinary regional conference be held to elect delegates for the electoral college.
A letter in The Patriot’s possession shows that the urgent extraordinary regional conference will kick off at 12h00 on Friday at the regional office in Wanaheda.
The Patriot understands that this extraordinary conference will be a mere ceremonial exercise and the Khomas delegates are expected to remain unchanged.
Shaningwa, who was hellbent to block Subasubani and Namundjebo-Tilahun from contesting for National Assembly seats was forced to swallow her pride and leave the meet with her tail between her legs as the Khomas REC stood its ground.
For some time now, Namibians were wondering if Immanuel Ngatjizeko, the former Cabinet Minister who has only attended four out of 125 sessions of the National Assembly over the last year-and-a-half would be contesting for re-election to the August house on the weekend.
The answer is no. Ngatjizeko has decided to go home.
Other notable names not contesting for the ‘pot’ include Namibia’s High Commission to Botswana, Asser Kapere (68), Deputy Minister of Defence Billy Mwaningange (73), Governors of Kavango East and Omaheke Sirkka Ausiku and Festus Ueitele respectively, Armas Amukwiyu, //Karas coordinator Mathew Mumbala, MP Loide Shinavene (74) and Samuel Nekongo.
The delegates to the ‘pot’ are made up of 84 central committee members, 84 from the regions, 44 none-central committee MPs, 6 from the Swapo Party Youth League, 10 from the Swapo Party Women’s Council, 6 from the Swapo Party Elders Council and 6 from the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW).
Those representing NUNW are Job Muniaro, Jessy Nombeza and Elijah Ngurare.
The female NUNW candidates are Meriam Onesmus-Amadhila, Rauha Ndilula amd Veueza Kasiringwa.
Although there was a lot of uncertainty if at all their delegates would make it to the electoral college, Kavango East and Oshana had all sent names of their candidate just before 22h00 last night.
All systems go
Despite the concerns, it appears as though it is all systems go for the Swapo’s electoral college.
Shaningwa issue a communique in which the time, venue and other relevant information on the college are captured.
“You are hereby invited to attend and the registration and accreditation will start on Friday, 6 September 2016, Safari Hotel. NB: CORRECTIO: Not 2016 but 2019. Please take note,” reads a statement purportedly signed off by Shaningwa.
Local lawyer Sisa Namandje is the Chief Election Returning Officer.
“I wish to (in advance) inform the Secretary-General that one of the enforceable rules at the electoral college will be that “no circulation or possession of divisive or factional lists of preferred candidates will be allowed by the Chief Electoral Officer of the Swapo Party Electoral College,” Namandje, seemingly in anticipation, forewarns.
More than 200 Swapo members will convene in Windhoek this weekend to elect the 96 members who will qualify for National Assembly seats, ahead of November’s national elections.