Independent presidential candidate proponent, Dr Panduleni Itula, has written a letter to SWAPO Party Secretary General, Sophia Shaaningwa, requesting a meeting with Party President Hage Geingob as well as other members of the party’s top four following Wednesday’s press conference denouncing him for his independent presidential candidate agenda.
This comes after SWAPO Secretary for Information and Mobilization, Hilma Nicanor, warned Dr Itula to stop trying to destabilise the ruling party after he recently announced that Namibia was now ripe for an independent presidential candidate to challenge President Geingob.
Dr Itula said this week that he had read with shock about a press conference conducted by Nicanor alleging his intention to run as an independent presidential candidate during the November 2019 Presidential elections.
“I would appreciate, and without prejudice request ….. for an audience behind closed doors,” Dr Itula wrote to Shaningwa.
He said the meeting would discuss Wednesday’s press conference, the Namibian constitution, SWAPO Party constitutional provisions and relevant governance instruments.
In his opinion piece first carried by the Windhoek Observer at the turn of this month, entitled The Legal Basis of the Viability of a Member of SWAPO Party Running as an Independent Presidential Candidate, Dr Itula argued that the SWAPO Party Constitution is silent on what happens if a member challenges their preferred candidate in the presidential elections.
He said the party cannot use its internal statutes to take away the rights of the independent candidate because the Namibian Constitution guarantees it.
“In this regard, the independent candidate has a strong position in law in that the SWAPO Party is bound by Article 5 because juristic persons are bound by it. Thus, in the light of Article 5 the party cannot take away the rights of the independent candidate,” Dr Ituna argued in his opinion piece.
He predicted at the time that some quarters within the ruling party may not be comfortable with having an independent candidate as their president and would like to challenge that in court.
“But where the running is allowed such as in Namibia such court case will not be successful,” he said.
In a brief interview with the Windhoek Observer on Wednesday, Nicanor said Dr Itula should not dare challenge SWAPO with his independent presidential candidate agenda.
“If he wants to test us, let him go ahead,” Nicanor said when asked whether SWAPO Party rules on elections expressly bar members from contesting as independent presidential candidates and if such a ban has any basis at law.
Nicanor said Section 53 of the party rules and procedures guiding the election of the party candidate to the presidency of the republic states that the president of the party shall automatically be the party’s candidate to the presidency of the Republic, in this case, Dr Hage Geingob, the current president of SWAPO Party.
She said the idea of some individuals calling for SWAPO members to support their agenda to stand for an independent candidate, while still holding on to membership in the SWAPO Party, is a serious violation of the party’s election rules and procedures.
“It can, therefore, not be acceptable that a person, being a member of the party declares him or herself as an independent [presidential] candidate but yet riding on the back of the party to compete against the party’s legitimate candidate whom the party as a whole is to rally behind and ensure hundred percent victory of such a candidate,” Nicanor said.
She said the party is aware of secret activities of Dr Itula’s agents who are seeking signatures in the regions for him to meet the requirements for the registration as a candidate for the upcoming Presidential and National Assembly elections.
Nicanor said such secret activities are not only a serious violation of the party’s policies, but also have the potential to cause disunity and factionalism within the party.