Scramble for Swapo Seats Hots Up

THE jostling for inclusion as delegates to the upcoming Swapo Party electoral college has taken a new twist, with party members who boycotted a referendum on the results of an election to choose delegates in Hardap accusing leaders assigned to the region of manipulating district elections through victimisation and insults.

A faction of the party calling itself Swapo veterans from Rehoboth Urban East which is led by former Rehoboth mayor Alfred Dax has accused Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau, who is the chairman of party leaders assigned to the region, of insulting them and going against the wishes of the majority of people in Hardap.

The group also accused the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) of meddling in the affairs of the region and not coming to terms with the results of the 2012 Swapo congress in which their candidate lost.

SPYL spokesperson Job Amupanda declined to comment on the allegations saying the aggrieved group should take up their concerns with the governor of Hardap.

“Every Tom and Jerry wants to be seen talking to the youth league as a ticket to being seen in the media. I decline,” he said.

The Swapo electoral college is comprised of 190 people who elect 72 members to the party list from which members of the National Assembly will be chosen after the national elections at the end of this year. The college will meet this year at a date to be announced.

The group expressed dissatisfaction in a statement to the party president Hifikepunye Pohamba and his deputy Hage Geingob over leaders assigned to their region, whom they accuse of messing up things.

“Your so-called trusted cadres are doing highly questionable things in the region to secure their positions at the electoral college and in the end at the future parliament at the expense of the party and the comrades on the ground,” read the statement.

The group’s bone of contention is that the Swapo leadership at Rehoboth Urban East is not legitimate because it was not elected by the majority members from the district.

However, Esau told The Namibian on Tuesday that the aggrieved group probably wanted to go to the electoral college and are now making unfounded allegations.

Although they publicly denied it, The Namibian has it on good authority that the battle-lines have been drawn between those who won at the 2012 congress, led by Swapo vice president Hage Geingob, and those who lost through other candidates Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and Jerry Ekandjo.

It is alleged that the losers have regrouped as a block.

Dax, who claims to be pro-Geingob, accuses the SPYL, which supported Ekandjo at the last congress, of trying to influence the election results.

“SPYL and company [must] accept the outcome of the congress. Some of the comrades have been removed from the district executive committee because they supported Geingob’s candidacy,” the group said.

The disputed election chose, among others the district coordinator Mathew Jonas, Christina Petrus the information and mobilisation secretary in the district and Hans Boois.

Last month’s referendum was on the district conference election results that took place in December last year, but Dax’s group claims the elections and the referendum were not transparent while the proceedings were questionable.

The group claims that their constituency has about 800 card carrying members. “How on earth can you hold a referendum with 45 comrades and legalise it,” the group said.

The aggrieved group has tried to engage the Swapo leadership, starting with Esau.

“For the past three-and-a-half months we have been waiting patiently for the response from our leaders. When we try to find out about our request to the leadership we receive insults from the leader assigned region, Bernard Esau,” the statement read.

Dax and Esau started exchanging SMSes last month.

However Dax, who initially introduced himself to the minister as “comrade brother, the man who made sure that Swapo Party is today a known brand in Rehoboth and its districts and indeed the whole south” did not take kindly to some of the responses.

After several SMS exchanges, mainly from Dax inquiring about the election dispute, a fired-up Esau told Dax via SMS that “I am not accountable to you, you will receive your response from the relevant structures of the district and region. I have taken note of your letter and it was attended to”.

Esau further said the matter was now closed and that Dax should respect his leadership.

Esau dismissed claims that he had insulted Dax, saying that it is not in his character to do so. He urged Dax and his group to move on and accept the results of the referendum which he says had more than 100 people, and focus on campaigning for the party.

Although he admitted that the region’s leadership is divided, Esau said there are better things to focus on than squabbles, adding that the group boycotted the referendum which was an indication that they had given up.

The group also tried to rope in information minister Joel Kaapanda whom they met at the Swapo headquarters in Windhoek last month.

Kaapanda told The Namibian yesterday that the group should accept the result and move on. He said the referendum was the good option to get a clear indication on what people thought about the elections.

He said the Dax group was in the minority, that is why they boycotted the referendum. “What more do they want?” Kaapanda asked.

Source : The Namibian