Combative SWAPO Secretary General, Sophia Shaningwa, faces a real test of her authority after Regional SWAPO District Executives in Okahandja and Walvis Bay refused to follow her directives when she single handedly assigned positions to local authority office bearers.
The SWAPO Party Okahandja District Executive announced Wednesday that it had decided to disregard a directive by Shaningwa to appoint Sophia Uupitha as Mayor.
It said Shaningwa went against the rules and procedures pertaining to the election of party office bearers which states that candidates for mayoral and deputy mayoral positions in terms of the Local Authorities Act 1992 shall be identified by the District Executive Committee.
According to the rules, the election of other office bearers to the Management Committee shall be coordinated by the District Executive Committee.
Okahandja District Coordinator, Martha Mwandiki, told the Windhoek Observer in an interview that the executive had decided to do things its own way which will likely put it on a collision course with Shaningwa.
“We took a resolution that we have the power to appoint our people. We respect our SG; if she had done proper consultations, we would not have a problem,” Mwandiki said.
The Okahandja District Executive said it does not agree with the decision to elevate Uupitha into the mayoral position.
“This person does not know how to work well with people. She fights with everyone and sometimes even resorts to physical fights. How is it possible that the SG is giving this person this position?
“When we invite her to meetings she does not show up and this same person should now become a leader,” Mwandiki complained.
The Windhoek Observer reported in October that Uupitha physically assaulted UDF councillor, Fredrick Shimanda, during a council meeting.
Shimanda alleged that he was physically attacked with a 500ml water bottle after he objected to the deputy mayor’s penchant for travelling on council business.
The executive wants corruption accused Johannes ‘Congo’ Hindjou to remain as mayor.
Magistrate Khaepriums Swartz last week set aside the swearing-in ceremony of Okahandja town councillors that was set to take place on Wednesday as chaos broke out between two groups of the community.
Residents disrupted the proceedings, opposing the re-election of Hindjou.
The Walvis Bay Municipality has also postponed the swearing in of office bearers because SWAPO officials in the district do not agree with the directive from Shaningwa.
They are also of the view that proper rules and procedures were not followed.
According to sources, people within the executive do not agree with the approach used and they (district executive) argue that it sets a bad precedent.
“Even if they agreed with the proposals, it should not come from there (Shaningwa’s office). There are certain people that are pro principles and they want to follow the rules,” sources said.
The sources claimed that the District Executive met last week and resolved that the regional coordinators will need to find out what is going on at the top.
“The District Executive does not like such directions; it renders them null and void. Those structures were put in place for fairness. Why would the SG make such a decision, what does she know,” the sources said.
In her directive, Shaningwa made Wilfred Immanuel the mayor, Penelope Martin, Deputy Mayor, Niilenga Lilo Chairperson Management Chairperson (MC), Sarah Shailemo MC member, Paulus Kauhondamwa MC member, Ndishoshili Nghilumbwa MC member and Hilka Erastus Alternate member.
The swearing in ceremony of the office bearers have been postponed until further notice.
The executive is still to meet to select names of the people to take up the different positions.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer, Walvis Bay Urban District Executive Coordinator, Risto Nambobola, said the district executive would meet next week Monday or Tuesday to nominate people for the different positions.
Shaningwa was not available for comment by the time of going to print.