Former cabinet minister, Kazenambo Kazenambo, has argued that independent candidate architect, Dr Panduleni Itula, should not be allowed to have his cake and eat it too by clinging on to his SWAPO membership while planning to contest against the ruling party’s candidate during the Presidential elections set for November.
The outspoken Kazenambo said this week that it is wrong for Dr Itula to argue that it is his constitutional right to run as an independent candidate in the presidential elections against a candidate chosen by the party that he belongs to.
“As much as he has a right, SWAPO members also have obligations to defend and protect the interest of the party. If you run as an independent candidate against the party’s chosen leader, are you not in breach of your responsibilities and obligations to the party? It shows that you are putting your personal interests above those of the rank and file of the party who elected their chosen candidate,” Kazenambo told the Windhoek Observer in an exclusive interview.
He labelled Dr Itula a remnant of Team SWAPO who is still bitter about his faction losing out at the ruling party’s sixth elective congress held in November 2017.
“We were together in Team SWAPO, and his decision to run as an independent presidential candidate points to him being a bad loser. I don’t think that if Team SWAPO had won, he would have run as an independent candidate. Why are we dancing around that? We cannot do politics with dishonesty; let us be honest, for the sake of this nation,” Kazenambo said.
He said SWAPO should never allow itself to have two drivers at the wheel, adding that any member who is not happy with the way the ruling party is doing things or its leader should resign.
“If you can see that the driver of this vehicle who has been given the key by the majority of SWAPO members is a wrong one, get out of the car. That is democracy. You cannot sit in the car and fight over the steering wheel. The car will overturn. In SWAPO, we do not have co-drivers; we have a process of identifying a driver.
“It is your democratic and constitutional right to get out of the car otherwise those who are the majority in the vehicle will use their rights too and ask you to get out of the car so that you do not disturb.”
Kazenambo said Dr Itula’s action reminds him of Ben Ulenga who, together with several other prominent members of SWAPO, resigned from the ruling party in 1999.
“The former colleagues were not happy with the way Ulenga was treated and the way SWAPO was handling the DRC war so they walked away from the party.
“The same happened with the formation of RDP after the late Hidipo Hamutenya lost out on the SWAPO presidency in 2004, so the comrades who are not happy with the outcome of the 2017 congress must also walk out and form their own party. I will respect those people, but not those who are trying to cause anarchy within SWAPO.”
He said it would have been better for Dr Itula to try and resolve problems or issues that he and the other comrades are not happy about instead of creating unnecessary problems through alien concepts.
“I have been vilified so many times for stating that there is tribalism in SWAPO. People have denied this, but tribalism is obviously there unless you choose not to see it. SWAPO is a safe haven for tribalists, but will I run away from SWAPO? No. I will keep talking about it and if you want, fire me, but I will not run away.
“I will be defeated at SWAPO platforms, but I will not stand as an independent candidate, and I will not campaign against colleagues who have won. I will try my luck at the next congress, but I will also not be silent about what I disagree with.
“Even if it is the president who is abusing his power, I will tell him, but I will not run away or violate SWAPO’s constitution or procedures, or try to look for shortcuts because there are no shortcuts in politics.
He said while the Namibian Constitution allows citizens to run in elections as independent candidates, there is no room, “even a small space where a fly can fit for hypocrisy”.
“People are hiding behind political parties while they claim to be independent. That is having double standards and cowardice. Stand alone and face the music and let us hear your objectives, don’t hide in the shadow of SWAPO while you are undermining SWAPO. If SWAPO is rotten you are rotten like SWAPO, you cannot say I am different from them, how? You are the same, you are only power hungry and a bad loser.”
Kazenambo’s comments come after the publisher of The Namibian, Gwen Lister, opined on social media this week that people like Dr Itula should not call themselves independents if they are still affiliated to a political party.
“Also media must stop calling electoral candidates ‘independents’ who insist on retaining SWAPO membership and thereby still subscribe to a party manifesto and policies. ‘Dissident’ maybe a more accurate description for those who refuse to resign; but independent they are not,” Lister wrote on micro blogging site, Twitter.