The idea of an independent candidate competing in national elections as espoused by Dr Panduleni Itula seems to be gaining momentum with 27-year-old teacher, Angelina Immanuel, announcing this week that she will stand as an independent candidate in the Ondangwa Urban Constituency by-election.
Social media was abuzz this week after Immanuel announced her candidacy on Wednesday.
The former banker told the Windhoek Observer in an interview that she doesn't belong to any political party.
She said her decision to run as an independent was motivated by her desire to inspire the youth and show them that young people are capable of running the country better.
“Our country is run by the old, tired and recycled few who are supposed to be telling stories to their grandchildren,” Immanuel said.
She said despite the youth constituting 60 percent of the population their representation in all leadership positions at both local and national level is only around 30 percent.
She added that lack of enlightenment and energetic leadership, has resulted in underdevelopment, poverty, inequality, hate against the poor and general despondency.
“Many youth are scared of standing up. It is for this reason that we have people who have been councillors since I was born. Can you imagine a person who was already a councillor before I was born is now contesting against me for the same position? What type of greed is that?
“Those are some of the things that made me decide to stand up for my community and generation. It is clear that political parties won't help us. They are controlled from Windhoek. This is bigger than Angelina. We want to take our future in our own hands. There will be no retreat from this point onwards.”
She said her campaign will focus on four main areas of youth empowerment, housing, local economic development and employment, and resolving the land question through prioritizing and protecting residents and their land.
A confident Immanuel said she has already won the election even before it starts.
“All I can say is that we got this,” she said.
Land activist and AR leader, Job Amupanda, said the Ondangwa Urban Constituency by-election will be a battle between the youth and the old, and the past versus the future after claiming the ruling SWAPO Party intends to field a candidate who is more than 60 years old.
“The youth, who represent the future, will be supporting a young, beautiful and energetic 27-year-old Angela Immanuel [sic],” Amupanda said.
The supplementary registration of voters in the Ondangwa Urban Constituency started on Wednesday and will end this Friday, 12 April, with the by-election taking place on 15 June following a vacancy that occurred on 18 March after President Hage Geingob appointed then sitting Councillor, Elia Irimari, as Governor of the Oshana Region.
Electoral Commission of Namibia Chief Electoral and Referenda Officer, Theo Mujoro, told the Windhoek Observer on Thursday that the nomination of candidates for the Ondangwa Urban Constituency will take place on 19 April with the submission of nominations for independent candidates taking place two weeks later on 4 May.
“The ECN would not know if any independent(s) will contest the Ondangwa Urban Constituency by-election until the 06th of May 2019,” Mujoro said.
According to the elections chief, independent candidates for constituency elections need only 150 registered voters to support their nomination unlike in the presidential race where Section 72(c)(ii) of the Electoral Act, 2014 requires an independent candidate to be supported by at least 500 registered voters, from each of the 14 regions in Namibia.
The idea of an independent candidate has been gaining momentum amongst voters since independent presidential candidate proponent, Dr Itula, wrote an opinion piece first carried by the Windhoek Observer last month, entitled The Legal Basis of the Viability of a Member of SWAPO Party Running as an Independent Presidential Candidate.
Dr Itula opined 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 light of Article 5 the party cannot take away the rights of the independent candidate,” Dr Ituna argued.
The Windhoek Observer reported two weeks ago that the former SWAPO Party School lecturer wrote a letter to party Secretary General, Sophia Shaaningwa, requesting a meeting with President Hage Geingob as well as other members of the party’s top four structure following a press conference denouncing him for his independent presidential candidate agenda.
Dr Itula said in his letter to Shaningwa that he had read with shock about a press conference conducted by SWAPO Secretary for Information and Mobilization, Hilma 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 Nicanor’s press conference, the Namibian constitution, SWAPO Party constitutional provisions and relevant governance instruments.