SWAPO Executive Director, Austin Samupwa, has leapt to the defence of his boss, under siege party Secretary General, Sophia Shaaningwa, who has been accused of arrogant behaviour and dictatorial tendencies by some party faithful, particularly councillors in Okahandja and Rundu.
Shaningwa has in recent weeks faced major criticism and disdain following directives to retain the status quo during council elections at Rundu and to demote Okahandja Mayor, Johannes ‘Congo’ Hindjou, to the position of ordinary councillor.
Last week, SWAPO Councillors in Okahandja backed by the District Executive Committee, disregarded a directive by Shaningwa to elevate Deputy Mayor, Sophia Uupitha, to the position of mayor.
SWAPO district leaders in the town have been arguing that 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 shall be identified by the District Executive Committee in line with the Local Authorities Act of 1992.
At Rundu, Shaningwa instructed the town council to retain its leadership, which includes former Mayor, Verna Sinimbo, but the ruling party councillors in the town refused to implement the directive and elected Isaak Kandungu as mayor instead and Toini Hausiku as Deputy Mayor.
The councillors were immediately recalled by the SWAPO party for refusing to adhere to Shaningwa’s directive.
The decision to recall the councillors was, however, short-lived following a high profile meeting at the party’s headquarters on Monday which was chaired by ruling party president Hage Geingob.
In an interview with the Windhoek Observer after the meeting, Samupwa said he is surprised by reports depicting Shaningwa as the villain as the decision she communicated to SWAPO Party Rundu and Okahandja councillors, was a collective one.
“All that Comrade Shaningwa did was to communicate the decision of the leadership, in this case, the Politburo,” Samupwa said.
“The secretary general’s directive is not hers, but a party directive. It is only that the secretary general is the one mandated by the constitution to sign off instructions on behalf of the party.
“When you see the secretary general signing off something, there would have been an agreement with the leadership to say this is the way forward. I hope this will be understood because most of the time people are accusing comrade Shaningwa as a person forgetting that whatever she does is the result of a collective decision.
“Someone has to communicate the decisions of the party to the public, and that person is comrade Shaningwa, who is the communication channel of the party.”
Samupwa’s comment was echoed by former SWAPO Party Youth League Secretary, Elijah Ngurare, who said on Thursday that Shaningwa has always maintained that the directives to the Rundu and Okahandja councillors was a decision made by the party’s Politburo.
“It was all over the media and no member of the Politburo contradicted her,” Ngurare said.