Political analysts have criticised Vice President, Dr Nickey Iyambo, for using his official role at a regional conference to campaign for a candidate ahead of the ruling party’s elective congress slated for November.
According to media reports, the VP urged SWAPO Party delegates to next month’s party congress to vote for Urban and Rural Development Minister, Sophia Shaningwa, to become the party’s next secretary general during his address at the SADC local authorities’ conference at Swakopmund.
Iyambo canvassed for party votes for Shaningwa while officiating at an international event not funded by the ruling party.
Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Director, Graham Hopwood said party business should not be mixed up with Government activities.
“I think it is necessary for SWAPO to introduce some clear guidelines for this campaigning period which rules out the use of State resources and State-related events for party campaigning purposes,” Hopwood said.
Political analyst and visiting professor at the University of Cape Town, Henning Melber said it was beyond any doubt that Iyambo had abused the opening of a regional forum to support a specific party candidate in the forthcoming elections.
“He was tasked to open this meeting on behalf of the Namibian Government, not on behalf of the SWAPO Party. He was speaking as the deputy head of State and therefore on behalf of the Namibian people in their totality.
“He, strictly speaking, violated his mandate in this position by using it for party political utterances. I am aware that many of the office bearers violate this as a daily practice. But in this case he did so at what was strictly speaking not a Namibian event, but a regional one, where local party politics are not a subject at all.
“Nickey Iyambo was totally off the mark and thereby showed disrespect for the office he holds, which is tasked to represent the Namibian people and not a party,” Melber said.
Iyambo was speaking to over 100 domestic and regional Government delegates when he was quoted as having said, “We have found very good men and women who will lead us in the years to come.
That is why we were eating each other the last few days,” referring to last weekend’s central committee meeting. “I am not running, but I am supporting and telling you who you can support.”
The scramble for the secretary general’s position is between Shaningwa and Oshikoto Regional Coordinator, Armas Amukwiyu.
Political analyst and Unam Director, Ndumba Kamwanyah, argued that SADC local authority officials do not belong to one party, but diverse parties.
“It was completely a wrong platform to campaign on. SADC local authority officials do not belong to one party but diverse. They were there to represent their governments in official capacities as public officials, not as political party functionaries.
“There is separation between Government and a party. Government is for all the people/citizens no matter their political views whereas the party is for all members, excluding non-members. When a minister or a public official bring political party matters to Government matters, he/she is in violation of the oath to serve all the citizens,” Kamwanyah said.
Professor Joseph Diescho explained that Iyambo was neither wrong nor right, but that it was inappropriate for him to use an international platform to campaign.
“If indeed the VP, as reported in the media, used an international platform to campaign for a faction of the party candidacy, it is neither wrong nor right, but it is inappropriate because he did three wrong things.
“One is that he misrepresents Namibia as a country about sectorial issues rather than national issues when Namibia was expected to lead. Two, it was inappropriate to wash our own dirty linen in public because that was not a forum to show that SWAPO is not united.
“Three, it adds fire to the ratings of Moody’s that we are in an unstable environment due to political party leadership squabbles,”Diescho said.
Hundreds of delegates are expected to elect the party’s leadership for the next five years, at the upcoming SWAPO elective congress between 23 and 26 November.
The ruling party’s Central Committee meeting last weekend made the following nominations:
SWAPO presidential candidates
Vice president candidates
Secretary general candidates
Deputy secretary general candidates