At least nine ministers and several governors who were set to attend the Sixth SWAPO Party elective congress in November under the auspices of the National Leaders Assigned to Regions (NLAR) category of attendees,
had their statuses nullified by the ruling party’s Politburo on Wednesday night after their non-procedural appointments were ruled unconstitutional.
The decision by the Politburo, SWAPO’s second highest decision-making body, also affects the likes of Ambassador Andreas Guibeb and businessman Tobie Aupindi, among others.
NLAR is a grouping of party officials seconded to the regions to assist in terms of political leadership, assignments and advice, who had over the years been nominated as delegates of the regions they would have supervised.
Sources say the Politburo’s decision was largely influenced by an objection from former Deputy Prime Minister, Marco Hausiku, who stated that the continuation of the practice to nominate NLAR to congress was unconstitutional and could provide a legal minefield, with results from congress being challenged.
Party leaders who are no longer attending congress include: Presidential Affairs Minister Frans Kapofi, Mines and Energy Minister Obeth Kandjoze, Economic Planning Minister Tom Alweendo, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein, Youth, Sports and National Service Deputy Minister Agnes Tjongarero, International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister Maureen Hinda and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Christine Hoebes.
Two Politburo members, who declined to be named, told the Windhoek Observer that SWAPO Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba, tried to defend the list of delegates selected (many of whom owe their jobs to Geingob) for congress even though they are not qualified as per the SWAPO Party rules.
According to sources, President Hage Geingob was forced to agree to the withdrawal of his supporters as NLAR delegates to congress, after realising that the majority of Politburo members were in support of their nullification.
“Hage did not have a choice, but to agree,” a politburo member said.
Another Politburo member said the majority of members did not take lightly the violation of the party’s constitution.
“It was not constitutional for them to be allowed to go to congress. It does not serve the party’s integrity; the integrity of the party must be first and it must be protected,” the Politburo member said.
According to the SWAPO Party constitution, to qualify for congress, a member should have served the party at district or regional level or be a mobiliser. Those who have been removed from the congress attendees list do not fit these two stipulated conditions.
“The Congress of SWAPO Party shall be composed of: all members of the Central Committee, 10 delegates elected from each of the regional executive committees by the regional conferences, five of whom shall be women,” the SWAPO party constitution says.
“Four delegates elected from each of the district executive committees by district conferences, two of whom shall be women. Sixteen delegates from affiliation organisations, eight of whom shall be women, 20 delegates from SWAPO Party Women’s Council who have been duly elected; 16 delegates from SPYL and SPEC whom 8 from each wing shall be women.”
SWAPO Secretary for Information and Mobilisation, Helmut Angula, refused to confirm or deny that the Politburo had made such a decision, during an interview with the Windhoek Observer on Thursday.
“The matter will not be announced yet because the affected people have not yet been informed. We have to consult with our department of legal affairs first before we do an official announcement to them,”Angula said.
Mbumba, who only last month, had stated that there was nothing wrong with NLAR being nominated by the regions to attend congress, refused to be drawn to comment on the Politburo decision.
“We are not going to announce things like that. It will be unethical. We have to wait, and do it a little later,” he said before hanging up the phone.
Kapofi told the Windhoek Observer that he was still to be informed of the party decision.
“I am not yet informed about it. I am still waiting. I was of course in that process of going to congress, but if the party has reversed that, then I will be content with its decision,” Kapofi said.
Aupindi professed ignorance when questioned about the matter.
“You are asking questions to a layman. I am not a member of the Central Committee or the Politburo. I am also not the party secretary general. Why don’t you ask them? In fact, I do not know what you are talking about,”Aupindi said.
The decision by the Politburo ostensibly brings to an end attempts by assumed Geingob loyalists to go to congress regardless of the procedures enshrined in the SWAPO Party constitution.
It appears that the public endorsement by the Khomas region last month of President Hage Geingob was nothing more than a publicity stunt after the region’s recent special gathering elected four candidates: businessman Desmond Amunyela, Mirjam Onesmus, John Elago and Nambata Angula, who are considered anti-Geingob members as congress delegates.
The gathering was attended by 80 percent of the congress delegates, a sign which insiders said, showed the acting president’s dwindling support base.