…no legal impediments for Geingob’s 2nd term bid
By Staff Reporter
As the race for Namibia’s presidency at the upcoming Presidential and National Assembly polls in November begins to take shape, it appears as though Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) president Mike Kavekotora and his ruling Swapo party counterpart, President Hage Geingob have one commonality: that is the battle of legitimacy.
On face value, the two were legitimately elected as leaders of their respective political formations. But one thing is clear, they have not won over the hearts of their party members, let alone attempt to unite them beyond the rhetoric of unit that they preach about. If the results are anything to go by, Geingob annihilated his antagonists with a resounding 574 votes at the party’s watershed elective congress in 2017.
His closest rival was Jerry Ekandjo who received 153 votes and Nahas Angula with a murky 39 votes.
The Itula nightmare
However, it is the emergence of Dr Panduleni Iitula – an ardent Swapo member – who is flirting with the idea of running as an independent candidate at the presidential poll that seems to have given Geingob a new headache.
Itula’s emergence – which is based on superior intellect and restoration of the dignity of all Namibians irrespective of their political affiliation – has equally brought confusion and panic among Swapo’s kith and kin.
If two members (Geingob and Itula) of the Swapo Party will be contesting for the most prestigious position in the land, who should we vote for? This is the question that confronts most Swapo faithfuls.
Swapo, through the office of Secretary-General Sophia Shaningwa and other senior politicians, has waged a fully-flagged war to discredit Itula as well as asking him to relinquish his membership.
“We don’t have any independent candidates in Swapo. If someone declares themselves as independent candidates, they have already revoked their membership and expelled themselves from the party.
We will only have one candidate for the upcoming national elections,” Swapo Party Youth League Secretary Ephraim Nekongo was quoted by a local daily earlier this year.
“This is a warning to all those who want to stand as independent candidates under the Swapo party colours, not only at Ondangwa but also in the upcoming national elections. If you declare yourself as an independent candidate, you have already revoked your membership,” Nekongo added. These attempts have fallen flat. Itula has been in no mood to entertain calls for his resignation from Swapo.
Instead, Itula has taken his fight to the regions, mobilising and educating the masses on what an independent candidate in a democratic dispensation such as Namibia’s is and the legal provision thereto.
“Does president Hage Geingob not support section 72 of the Electoral Act that makes provision for an independent candidate? If government office-bearers who have taken an oath of office do not uphold the Electoral Act, then they are in breach of the oath of office. I will not resign from Swapo, and I am ready to challenge Swapo…the power to expel [a Swapo member] is based in Article VII (10), where the politburo shall have the authority to expel a member for serious misconduct or violation of the Swapo constitution. But a member standing as an independent candidate is exercising their republican constitutional right, not violating the Swapo constitution,” Itula was quoted.
In its candidate’s defense, Swapo refused to deploy a wait-and-see approach.
At the just-ended Swapo electoral college, known as ‘the pot’, lawyer Sisa Namandje who was the chief electoral officer the internal election took time to rule out any qualms regarding Geingob’s presidential bid for a second term. Namandje did this on the instruction of Swapo’s top brass, seemingly in response to Itula campaign.
“I was required to look at the Electoral Act, the Constitution of Namibia, the Swapo Constitution and the Rules [and Procedures] and found there are no impediments or any kind of disqualification to our president who is automatically our candidate [for the presidential election],” Namandje said.
Namandje’s termed the exercise ‘the certification of the Presidential candidate’. “He(Geingob) has only done one term. There is no constitutional disqualification. He can still do another term,” he cemented.
Congress and pot hangover
It is an open secret that 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.
The just-ended electoral college, if anything, only worsened the division within the ruling party, with the now-defunct Team Harambee faction or Geingob loyalists dominating the list of 96 that Swapo will field for the National Assembly elections.
At the moment, Geingob and his clique are in full control of Swapo, within all its structures, be it the central committee, political bureau and the wings all dominate by his allies and praise-singers.
The now-disbanded Team Swapo and those who sympathised with it have been alienated and are nowhere close to decision-making portfolios. This situation, according to local analysts will deepen the rift within Swapo even deeper. Speculators say Geingob will leave behind a divided Swapo behind when his presidential term ends in 2020.
Senior members of the ruling party called for an autopsy – 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.
Namibia is braced for the Presidential and National Assembly on 27 November 2019.