Swapo nomination, verification processes under fire

Disillusioned comrades claim youth exclusion among others

29 September 2020 | Local News

Walvis Bay


Sources allege that the nomination and election processes of Swapo candidates in the Erongo region for the upcoming elections are flawed.

According to an aggrieved group, Swapo leaders assigned to the Erongo region baffled members in the districts by pushing through disputed candidate nominations for the regional and local authority elections.

The group allege that the leaders dispatched to address complaints in the various districts instead held closed door discussions with the implicated nominees, leaving the complainants locked out.

This apparently resulted in outspoken Swapo youth group members in Usakos rallying behind an independent candidate, with rumors of similar moves in the Daures district.

“Of the seven Swapo districts in the Erongo region, only one – Arandis – has not reported irregularities in the nomination and verification processes,” the group of aggrieved members allege.

The group is of the opinion that the district executive committees had no legal power under the party constitution to eliminate any nominees put forward by the respective sections.

“Their responsibility was only to verify submitted documents from nominees and forward this to the region,” they said.

Expired terms of office

According to the aggrieved members, the district executive committees that were responsible for the verification process comprised of structures with expired terms of office and are therefore illegal and had no jurisdiction to preside over the verification process.

The terms of office for district executive committees are three years and that for the branch executive committees, two years.

“We learned from sources in Omaruru that the leaders are on their way back to the districts. Deputy minister Hafeni Ndemula is apparently on his way back and deputy minister Derick Klazen is also reported to be on his way to the Duares district accompanied by governor Neville Andre. The purpose of this visits are unclear and we don’t know if this applies to all other districts,” said the group of complainants.

Not so

Klazen said he was not at liberty to comment on processes he was not involved in.

“We are five national leaders under the leadership of minister Utoni Nujoma who were divided due to the vastness of the region. I was assigned to attend to the Walvis Bay Urban and Daures districts. I did not receive any directives to return to the districts. My mission is complete. I listened to the complaints and took a resolution on the way forward. I am on my way to the party secretary general Sophia Shaningwa to submit the relevant documents.”

Complaints

A letter dated 26 September implies that a Swapo party meeting held with deputy minister Hafeni Ndemula on 25 September in Karibib concluded without a clear way forward.

Aggrieved members who refer to themselves as “locked-out comrades” submitted a number of complaints to the meeting for the benefit of others.
According to them, the Chris Hani section was removed and excluded from the verification process by the district executive committee. This constitutes a denial of the constitutional right of party members under Chapter II, Article IV C (b).

They also allege that some of the committee members that verified the nominations had vested interests as they were also put forward as nominees, thus standing for positions.

“These nominees verified other nominees and this constitutes a legitimate claim of unfairness. There was no independent verification process.”

The group demanded the removal of nominees that do not reside or temporarily reside in the local authority area where they aspire to become councillors.

“Such persons must be removed from the nominations because it conflicts with the Local Authorities Act and the Electoral Act.”

The group also called for all reported instances where the Swapo party constitution, directives or rules and procedures were violated, to be corrected.

“It should not be swept under the carpet. All vacant positions in the structures must be filled without delay and in line with the party constitution. The overseeing of the final voting of nominees’ process should be done under the supervision of legitimate leaders.”

Rules are rules

Deputy minister Ndemula said that Swapo will not allow individuals to hold it hostage.

“We have structures and a constitution that guide us. Amending rules at will, will set a dangerous precedent. The district committees looked into the names and forwarded it to the regional executive for verification from where it was send to the central committee for vetting.”

Ndemula added that said meeting in Usakos was a district executive committee meeting.

“It was not an open meeting. However, we allowed for complaints to be aired. Those with issues against non-performing councillors should come to the party conference and vote them out.”

Independent runners

Kleopas Johannes, a Swapo member based in Usakos, said the party is faced by a challenge of young cadres having indicated their interest to stand for positions in the upcoming elections.

He said that not all branches had completed the renewal of mandates which had expired in 2019.

“All party district branch positions expired. The branches did not renew the mandates due in part to Covid-19. When the nomination process started, it was flawed. Names were submitted without proper procedures being followed. People do not want the old councillors to stand again due to the non-delivery of services.”

According to Johannes, the incompetence of party branches also resulted in not empowering young people to meet stipulated party requirements.

“Young people are told to produce their membership cards to prove they belong to the party for five years. However, no cards were issued and such persons cannot qualify as per the party rules. This will result in Swapo losing more youth votes.”
He said the only option for these young people is to go forward as independent candidates or join parties willing to support them.

“The party has been pleading with the youth to return to its folds. However, when the names of youth members endorsed and supported by the whole branch are submitted or proposed, it is being dismissed by leaders doing the verification process due to the fact that they do not have their five year membership cards. We are simply being told that we are breaking the rules.”

Johannes said he intends to stand as an independent candidate.

“I am not leaving the party. However, my loyalty is with the people. If the people mandate me to lead, I will sacrifice and stand with or without the party.”

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