Outgoing SWAPO Party Secretary General, Nangolo Mbumba, is on a collision course with candidates for the party’s Top Four positions after he indicated this week that there will be a rerun of the voting process should the election results at next week’s elective congress not reflect gender balance.
Candidates who spoke to the Windhoek Observer on Thursday said the proposal by Mbumba is undemocratic as it may change the will of the delegates, just to have 50/50 gender representation.
Mbumba told the Windhoek Observer earlier this week that there will be a rerun of the voting process for the Top Four if all male candidates win in the respective positions that they are contesting for.
“Right now we have a tight rule that says nothing goes on in the party without 50/50 except in the SWAPO Party Women Council of course. We have done that in Parliament where there is a zebra style, in the upcoming Central Committee structures there will be zebra, and the upcoming Political Bureau will be zebra, as well as in the upcoming Top Four positions. There is already a rule that says there should be two women and two men.
“Now if all men win, we will have a re-run and if all women win, then we would still have a re-run until we arrive at the 50/50 gender balance and this is in the constitution, so we cannot change that.
“This rule was never applied before, so we still don’t know how it will play out,” Mbumba said.
The SWAPO Party elective congress will take place in Windhoek from 23-26 November.
Eleven candidates are vying to fill SWAPO’s powerful Top Four positions for the next five years.
Vice Presidential candidate, Helmut Angula, said there is no provision in the SWAPO Party constitution that calls for a rerun at the congress should the election results yield a non-50/50 slate, unless Mbumba wants to amend the current constitution.
“There is no rule provided for such events, so where he is getting that I really don’t know. If he is proposing an amendment to the constitution, it cannot be applied to the process of next week’s elective congress.
“The congress cannot frame such rules only now, because so far all the preparations made for the upcoming congress were all done under the current constitution,” Angula said.
Deputy Secretary General candidate, Marco Hausiku, explained that the gender balance was only enacted when nominating candidates for the top four positions and not for the outcome of what delegates have voted for.
“My understanding is that the gender balance only applies to candidates’ nominations, but when it comes to the outcome of delegates’ votes, that is the final. Re-run for what?
“Such rules are for the Central Committee candidates. For the Top Four positions, we are not going to count gender representation of women and men when it comes to the results. We are already standing and delegates will vote for their preferred candidates, so it’s either you win or lose,”Hausiku said.
Secretary General candidate, Sophia Shaningwa, refused to comment on Mbumba’s statement, adding that she does not want to be involved.
“Such discussions are between you and the Secretary General, don’t talk to me about that, I don’t want to involve myself in them,”Shaningwa said before she hung up the phone.
Presidential candidate, Nahas Angula, said if the will of the delegates is to be dictated without reference to specific clauses in the constitution, then this may lead to court challenges.
“I am not aware of it and was never informed about this development. I only know that in SWAPO we have adopted the zebra style, but I am not aware that it is going to be applied next week to the election results. I never heard of anything like that.
“If it goes as far as that, then this might lead to a court challenge because you cannot reverse the will of the delegates, it is not allowed, that’s not democracy,”Angula said.
Deputy Secretary General candidate, Petrina Haingura, questioned how Mbumba’s rule will play out and why candidates and delegates are not informed about the move.
“I am hearing about this for the first time. How is that going to play out? Already for the presidency position there are only male candidates, in the other three positions there are both females and males, so if one gender wins in the last three categories will there still be a rerun? I am not informed about it.
“What happened to the Electoral College in 2012 when parliamentarians were chosen and this was discussed at both Central Committee and Politburo level? Then, everyone knew what to expect, but this time, nothing at all,” Haingura said.