SWAPO Party divides Kavango after recalling councilors; accused of brewing tribalism

Robert Maseka

WINDHOEK, FEB 13 – A letter directed to SWAPO Party Kavango East Regional Coordinator Mushinga Shinduvi from SWAPO Party Secretary General Sophia Shaningwa has recalled Mayor of Rundu Isaak Kandingu, four days after he was sworn in at the helm. Kandingu’s Deputy, Toini Hausiku – the wife of SWAPO Party stalwart Marco Hausiku – was also recalled together with  Annastacia Shinduvi, who was chairperson of the management.

Anastacia Shinduvi was deemed to have defied directives of the Party by nominating an opposition councillor to the Management Committee, while Toini Hausiku had seconded the nomination of an opposition councillor to the Mangement Committee.

Kandingu for his part had accepted nomination as Mayor, in defiance of the Party Directive, and had been seconded by an opposition councilor.

In the letter, Shaningwa says “It has come to the attention of the Office of the Secretary General that some SWAPO Party Councillors in Rundu Town Council have defied the directives of the Secretary General, and that of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the SWAPO Party to the core.”

She referred to Part II, Section 49 of the SWAPO Party Rules and Procedures for Election of Party Office-Bearers and Party Representativs at legislative and Government levels that stipulates:

In terms of the Electoral Act 1992, as amended, those candidates who stand on the Party Ticket are essentially sponsored by the Party. It is the PARTY that spends money and other resources to campaign for them. Once they are elected, they cannot turn around and say that the Party should not have a say in the manner in which they conduct themselves in the positions in which they have been elected.”

Shaningwa further insisted that her office has on “numerous occassions” directed that its directive be implemented.

She explained that Part II, Section 13 (1) of the Local Authorities Act, Act No. 23 of 1992 stipulated that a member of a local authority was to vacate his or her office upon withdrawal by the political party, association or organisation which had nominated the member for election. This also reads together with the Chapter II, Article IV (C) of the SWAPO Party Consitution, according to Shaningwa.

“It is disappointing and painful that the above-mentioned Councilors on the SWAPO Party Ticket are in cohorts with the opposition Councillor and have gone to the extent of electing an opposition Councillor into the Management Committee at the expense of SWAPO Party, and thus bringing the name of the SWAPO Party into disrepute,” according to Shaningwa.

She advised that Regional Coordinator Mushinga Shinduvi withdraw the Local Authority Councilors with immediate effect.

In addition Shaningwa said, ” The SWAPO Party shall replace the withdrawn councilors with the next Party Cadres on the SWAPO Party Long List of the Rundu Urban District.”

The Cadres are Johanna Kakondo, Ngondo Johannes and Safarina Kandere.

However, the communiqué has courted controversy on social media as it has emerged that the replacements completed a council comprising of one tribe only in a region dominated by six local tribes.

Self-styled pundits on social media vented their opinions that ranged from nullifying the decision among fears it had the potential to divide the region on tribes and weaken the Party during upcoming elections.

Others questioned how Windhoek-based  Shaningwa would know of the performance of councilors in Rundu more than the district and regional leadership, further implying she had never traveled to the region to understand both sides, and that she was hiding on directives.

Accusations were also awash, with words like favourtism, censorship and dictatorial leadership summarising the displeasure among concerned citizens.

Sources indicated already that displaced the councilors will challenge the decision they regard as “unlawful and unfair” in court if Shaningwa does not withdraw the letter recalling the councilors, while some have vowed to hold demonstration to prevent the swearing in mooted for next week.

Sources within the Party claim that Shaningwa and the Politburo decided to recall the councilors because they elected a member of APP opposition Mathew Munuma Wakudumo as member of the management of Rundu Town Council.

Former Mayor Verna Sinimbo and her Deputy Ralph Ihemba both from SWAPO Party, had refused to take management positions, arguing that fellow councilors constantly adhered to headquarter directives after their nominations were not seconded by fellow Party councilors.

Both Shaningwa and Mushinga phones went unanswered.

By Robert Maseka