Tables have turned on National Council Chairperson, Margaret Mensah-Williams, with calls now being made for her to be disciplined over her botched handling of complaints at the June Khomas regional election.
This comes as Mensah-Williams who was the Chairperson assigned to oversee the election process, recommended the nullification of the election, citing various anomalies, a position rejected by the ruling party at its Wednesday politburo meeting.
The Politburo Verification Committee (PBVC) team was chaired by Nahas Angula, Erkki Nghimtina and Immanuel Ngatjizeko.
The PBVC questioned Mensah-Williams’ conduct after her initial decision to declare the regional conference free and fair, but later nullified her decision, a position which it said is not consistent with SWAPO values of predictability on the part of its leaders.
In a damning recommendation, the Politburo Verification Committee called for Mensah-Williams to be disciplined.
“The Regional Executive deliberated on the serious allegations of Cde Hon Margareth Mensah-Williams and consider such as ‘character assassination’ and further express concern on her failure to render advise and direct the SWAPO Party Khomas Regional Conference and suggest double standards of declaring the election free and fair, yet submitting a report seeking nullification of the very result she declared free and fair,” the document noted.
In the report, businesswoman Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun accused Mensah-Milliams of causing embarrassment to the party and disunity amongst Khomas Party members over her handling of the conference.
She called for her to be disciplined for her “inappropriate conduct.”
“The Regional Executive passed a resolution demanding the immediate removal of Cde Margeth Mensah-Williams as Chairperson of Leaders Assigned (CLA) to Khomas and recommended necessary disciplinary measures be implemented,” the report noted.
“This action further has the potential of going against the grain of the principled obligation contained in Article IV, C, 2, (k) of the SWAPO Party Constitution, and is likely to bring the credibility of the SWAPO Party and its National Leaders Assigned to regions, into disrepute,” the report from the PBVC noted.
It emerged that businessman Martin Shipanga, under Mensah-Williams’ watch, was allowed to participate in the election for the position of regional treasurer despite not meeting the party criteria of being a member of any District Executive Committee.
“The complaint/report by the Chairperson of the Leaders Assigned (CLA) is indicative of the failure to oversee that all goes in accordance with the rules and procedures and is indicative that the Chairperson of the Leaders Assigned allowed rules to be ignored.
“The report of the CLA which supports and expresses concerns over the exclusion of Cde Shipanga is indicative further that she allowed a comrade who was not a delegate to be given “delegate status” and her further insistence that he be declared duly elected further compromises her ability to be fair and comply with the Constitution of SWAPO,” the report further noted.
Another candidate, Connie Engelbrecht, was also allowed to contest for the position of Regional Information and Mobilizer, despite contestations over the length of her membership in the party, amid indications she only joined the party in February, contrary to her claim that she had been a party member since 2002.
Mensah-Williams, in the report, was found to have failed to consult other party leaders assigned to her when she compiled a report that called for the election results to be overturned.
When contacted for comment, Mensah-Williams refused to comment on the matter through her staff member Bernice Van Wyk, who answered her phone.
The report also exonerated business partners Desmond Amunyela and Lazarus Jacobs.
Jacobs was allowed to chair the secretariat section, and Amunyela was allowed to present the financial report at the conference.
This comes after it emerged that letters dated 26 June, signed by Elliot Mbako, were sent to four party members including the two, asking them to assist during the election.
“[Regarding] a complaint received against the role played by Cde Lazarus Jacobs. The Regional Executive Committee clarified that Cde Lazarus Jacobs was a member of the Secretariat or Election Committee. There is no evidence that the role played by Cde Lazarus Jacobs had any adverse impact on the outcome of the election,”’ the report said.
“A complaint was further launched about the alleged attendance by Cde Desmond Amunyela at various District Conferences. The Verification Committee could not ascertain from any submission, that Cde Desmond Amunyela indeed attended any of the District Conferences as alleged.”
The Khomas Verification Team on district extra-ordinary and regional ordinary conferences was appointed by the SWAPO Party Political Bureau at its meeting of 12 July, with the mandate to verify whether the extra-ordinary districts and ordinary regional conferences that took place during the month of May and June, had been conducted in strict adherence to the SWAPO Party Constitution, rules and procedures for electing office bearers.
Meanwhile, in the Oshikoto region, the verification team has recommended to the politburo, the nullification and rerun of five district elections, namely Guinas, Nehale Iya Mpinganga, Okankolo, Omuthiya and Onayena.
The ruling party has, however, approved that only four of the districts should have reruns, excluding Onayena.
The elections are expected to be held before 10 August, when the regional conference is expected to be held.
The team also recommended a meeting between the Chairperson of SWAPO Leaders Assigned to Oshikoto, Penda Ya Ndakolo and Regional Coordinator, Armas Amukwiyu, amid concerns of personal differences.
In the Omaheke region, the politburo has recommended elections to be held in Aminus, Otjinene and Otjombinde after the districts failed to hold elections.
In line with the recommendation of the verification team, the politburo resolved to endorse Okorukambe’s extra-ordinary conference held on 26 February, where Frans Murangi was elected as district coordinator.
It is not clear why Mensah-Williams made a U-turn in the case of the Khomas election results, but speculation is rife that her complaint was part of an agenda of the party’s top leadership to nullify regional conference results that did not go in Acting Party President Hage Geingob and SWAPO Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba’s favour.
It is an open secret that Acting President and Mbumba are working around the clock to try and block Armas Amukwiyu from attending the party’s elective congress.
The SG and Acting President were also contemplating saddling Amukwiyu with disciplinary charges, but their attempts were shot down by other politburo members.
The ruling party’s politburo also resolved to hold a central committee meeting on 12 August, where nominations for the top four positions of the party will be confirmed.
Mensah-Williams was last year described by former PLAN combatant, Sikunawa Tshiponga Negumbo as a Johnny-come-lately to SWAPO, adding that she used to be an active member of the official opposition party, DTA.