Political analysts have accused beleaguered Attorney General, Sackeus Shanghala, of violating the mandate of his office by dabbling in political fights.
This comes after Shanghala labelled ‘Team Swapo’, which comprises of Pendukeni Ivula-Ithana, Helmut Angula, Jerry Ekandjo, Nahas Angula, Armas Amukwiyu, Petrina Haingura and Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, as a ‘coalition of angry people’ during last week’s SWAPO fundraising gala dinner at Noordoewer in the //Karas region.
According to media reports, Shanghala allegedly denounced Team Swapo’s claims that Geingob was responsible for the country’s economic woes; used State resources for his party presidential campaign; and that the party under his leadership lacks clear political direction and focus. Political analyst and visiting professor at the University of Cape Town, Henning Melber, said Shanghala should refrain from making any political statements.
“His political statements last weekend in Noordoewer, in my view, clearly violate the mandate and office of an attorney general, who by definition, should protect the law, but stay out of party politics. “This is an office which should display strict neutrality and its holder should refrain from any interference in daily political affairs as long as these do not present a violation of the country’s laws,” Melber said.
He said an attorney general ought to stay strictly out of party political interventions for or against certain policy debates and persons.
“The office holder is of course entitled to a personal political preference, but this is entirely a private affair and should not influence the execution of the mandate or allow using the position for political utterances unrelated to the mandate.
“Speaking as attorney general publicly in the way Shanghala did on current policy matters relating to the forthcoming party congress is a blatant lack of judgment and violation of his duties.
“His office must by all means stay out of party politics. It is there to serve all the Namibian people and is guided by a Constitution and its principles, but not by the individual liberty to freedom of expression, as he might erroneously be tempted to claim.”
Melber said Shanghala’s responsibility is to express informed views on legal matters, not on party politics. “Shanghala, therefore, in my view has violated a fundamental principle and ought to be reprimanded from the highest office for his undue interference,” he said.
Political analyst and leading academic, Professor Joseph Diescho, said Shanghala is part of the team of Cabinet executives who are worried about their jobs after the elective congress, adding that the attorney general has become a liability to the country.
“The conundrum that is highlighted by the confusion of the role of the AG of the republic points to a disequilibrium in our Government system. We should not focus on the person, but rather on the significance of the office of the AG, that is to advise and counsel the president.
“It would require therefore that the person appointed is a qualified and tested officer of the courts which our AG right now is not. At this moment, the incumbent AG is one of the people from the executive branch who are worried about their positions if there is a reshuffle after the elective congress,” Diescho said.
He added that Shanghala was forced to utter statements that he is not supposed to make in a bid to justify to his principals his continued stay in his position.
“Cabinet ministers who are insecure in the confusing environment we find ourselves in, are likely to misinterpret their roles and in so doing, miss their lanes. The AG seems to be looking for justification to stay in his position and in the absence of the rationale of how he got there, he runs to things that do not require his opinion. He is not speaking like an AG any longer, but speaking to the beleaguered president in a way that says, “Please don’t forget me”.
“It is inconsistent with the functions of the AG to step in the ring as a candidate for leadership in the SWAPO Central Committee. It is dangerous for the highest officer of the law to become an official intimidator of the rank and file of the SWAPO Party who have the right to choose any of the candidates chosen by the Central Committee.
“In other and more matured republics, the conduct of the AG would compel the president to remove him, because he is now a liability,”Diescho said.
However, Political analyst and deputy director at Unam’s Centre for Professional Development, Teaching and Learning Improvement, Ndumba Kamwanyah, said Shanghala has the right to get involved in politics, as long as he does not mix politics with Government matters.
“Therefore what he said at Noordoewer is okay because he said it at a party platform,” Kamwanyah said.
In their collective press statement released on Tuesday this week, ‘Team Swapo’ said Shanghala’s statement comes from an individual who is ‘uncouth,’
“Shanghala is not a qualified lawyer to make any statements at a SWAPO Party function. He is an unadmitted lawyer who is practicing law in the wrong place. Making statements about people who are old enough to be his parents is a clearly example of an individual who is not culturally anchored. However, we understand that he is singing for his supper.
“We want to advise Shanghala to rather confine himself and his attention to the N$47 million dispensed from the national treasury under questionable circumstances as he has a direct hand in it,” the statement read.