Armas Amukwiyu has been voted as the SWAPO Party Oshikoto regional coordinator despite a spirited campaign by the party’s leadership to discredit him.
The youthful regional coordinator garnered 67 votes to challenger, Max Nekongo’s 17 votes during a hotly contested election held in Omuthiya on Wednesday.
His victory comes barely two months after his initial win was nullified amid allegations of bribery.
As a result, the ruling party’s Central Committee ordered a rerun in five districts, namely Guinas, Nehale Iya Mpinganga, Okankolo, Omuthiya and Onayena.
The regional conference, which ran until the early hours of Thursday morning, according to sources, did not go without its challenges.
On one occasion, the conference had to be adjourned to allow consultations over the participation of Armas Amukoto, who had planned to contest the position of treasurer.
The verification team led by Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, was of the opinion that Amukoto should be allowed to contest, as the politburo had not barred him from contesting, despite objection by some members.
Sources say Nandi-Ndaitwah did not take kindly to the emergence of a letter from SWAPO Secretary General Nangolo Mbumba, which stated he shouldn’t contest, resulting in her calling Mbumba to justify his decision.
At some point during the heated conversation, sources say Nandi-Ndaitwah was heard telling Mbumba that she does not work for him, after he had ordered her to follow instructions as stated in the letter.
Contacted for comment on the election outcome, Mbumba acknowledged the results.
“The Oshikoto Regional conference went well and we have the result with us. Armas Amukwiyu emerged as the winner, no complaints so far or anything like that,” he said.
Quizzed on a message circulating on social media, implying that he had tried to influence the election outcome, Mbumba said, “It is a fake message that is impersonating me, that is not my language. We will issue out a press release on this matter.”
Charles Namoloh, who was also part of the verification team, told the Windhoek Observer that the conference went according to plan and in line with SWAPO principles and procedures.
“As someone who was responsible for the verification, it went very well and the mood was good. Procedures were followed accordingly and elections for the entire five districts were carried out according to the constitution.
“The regional conference went well, the quorum was met and winners were presented. Those who have lost did not present any complaints; they have accepted defeat. There will be a central committee meeting this coming weekend and the report will be given,” he said.
Most regional coordinators, who spoke to the Windhoek Observer, congratulated Amukwiyu over his election, stating that the party’s grassroots in region had spoken.
State House and the party leadership are alleged to have unleashed a campaign to discredit Amukwiyu, to ensure that he was not re-elected to his current position.
Although Amukwiyu is unlikely to contest the party presidency, according to those close to him, he has unsettled the party leadership after he openly advocated for all party positions to be contested at the upcoming congress, in line with the ruling party’s constitution, killing the notion of sole candidates.
Amukwiyu is credited for spearheading the campaign which handed President Hage Geingob the party’s vice presidency at SWAPO’s 2012 elective congress.
He has since created a personal power network in the regions, a move which has caused discomfort amongst senior party leaders, who are worried about his increasing political prominence.
The SG and Geingob have also been accused of attempting to saddle Amukwiyu with disciplinary charges, but these efforts were shot down by other politburo members.
The ruling party will hold a central committee meeting on Saturday, 12 August, where nominations for the top four positions in the party are expected to be confirmed.
Last Thursday’s politburo meeting, held in preparation for the central committee meeting scheduled for Saturday, saw some members calling for the postponement of the process until the conclusion of the Omaheke regional conference, currently underway.
With 90 percent of congress delegates now having been confirmed, it is now up to the candidates to lobby for support.
According to party insiders, the powers of the acting president and secretary general have now been diminished, as they can no longer influence the outcome of elections.
The Amukwiyu block is noted by sources, to now enjoy a huge support base in Oshikoto, Oshana, Omusati, Khomas, Otjozondjupa and pockets of Zambezi and Kunene regions.
Geingob is said to enjoy the support of the SWAPO Party Youth League, SWAPO Elders Council, and pockets of Kharas and Hardap regions.
Luderitz and Oranjemund districts, which have big congress delegates, might not necessarily back Geingob, with Omaheke, Kunene and Erongo regions still up for grabs.