Swapo Has Lost Focus – Iilonga

DIVISIONS in the ruling Swapo party continue to widen in the aftermath of the party’s electoral college, which ended about a week ago.

Despite the party’s top leadership trying to paint a rosy picture, some of the leaders have not shied away from expressing their discontent.

Defence deputy minister Petrus Iilonga, one of those unhappy with the outcome of the electoral college, allegedly said “Swapo has lost its focus” and that the party list is dominated by untrustworthy people.

Party sources said Iilonga made the remarks over the weekend, while addressing a rally at Ohakadu near Onheleiwa in the Etayi constituency, Omusati region.

The Namibian understands the rally was a late commemoration of the Heroes’ Day celebrations.

Iilonga allegedly asked a crowd of party supporters if they could imagine a national assembly without the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana and the Minister of Youth National Service Sport and Culture, Jerry Ekandjo.

Both Iivula-Ithana and Ekandjo are placed towards the bottom of the list, making their chances of making it to the National Assembly appear very slim. Iilonga is number 113 on the list, meaning he is most likely not going to parliament, even if Swapo wins all 96 seats in the November elections.

Party sources said that Etayi constituency councillor Bernadinus Shekutamba was also present at said rally, but referred all questions to Iilonga.

Iilonga could not be reached for comment yesterday, while calls to his office went unanswered. A text message sent to his mobile phone was also not attended to.

Swapo secretary general Nangolo Mbumba yesterday confirmed getting such reports about Iilonga’s utterances, but said the party was waiting for someone who was at the event to come forward with information.

Mbumba also said the party could not do anything formal, based on rumours circulating.

While Iilonga was allegedly ranting, the ruling party launched its manifesto in Katutura where the turnout was poor. For the first time in the country’s history, Swapo asked VIPs to join the people on the terraces, allegedly to make the crowd appear larger.

The absence of a host of senior party and government leaders was also linked to the electoral college’s outcome and the divisions simmering in the party.

Although the party is presenting a united front, some quarters fear that a repeat of what happened after the 2004 extraordinary congress and electoral college could be eminent.

At that time, then-President Sam Nujoma backed current President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who beat Hidipo Hamutenya to become Swapo’s presidential candidate in that year’s elections.

Later that year, many of Hamutenya’s supporters performed poorly and did not make it to parliament and his faction within the party claimed there was a well-orchestrated witch-hunt. In 2007, Hamutenya and his supporters split and formed the RDP.

The 2014 electoral college also showed some resemblance of the 2004 events, only that the term witch-hunt has now been replaced by terms like purging and ‘de-campaigning’.

The Namibian has also reported that a group of disgruntled party elders were preparing to petition the outcome of the electoral college. Mbumba yesterday said a petition had not yet reached his office.

Source : The Namibian