… Says Swapo action against him should not be based on ‘hatred and rumours’
By Hileni Nembwaya and Elvis Muraranganda
SWAPO Oshikoto regional coordinator Armas Amukwiyu, who is in a battle for his political survival ahead of the ruling party elective congress in November, says he is willing to submit himself to a disciplinary process and suspension, if it is found that he violated the Swapo Constitution during district conferences held in the region.
Amukwiyu is being investigated by a Swapo task team, amid a bitter battle in the ruling party, ahead of the congress, which sees pro and anti-President Hage Geingob groups jostling for power.
Swapo Secretary-General Nangolo Mbumba has directed that the Oshikoto regional conference should not take place, before several processes, including the vetting of candidates and the supervision of the congress by national leaders assigned to region, are complied with.
Amukwiyu, who is an erstwhile confidant of Geingob, has now apparently aligned with forces that are against the Head of State.
In an interview with Confidente, Amukwiyu vowed to stay away from negative politicking, while urging all Swapo members to keep their emotions at bay, so that the party constitution can prevail, in terms of issues raised ahead of the elective congress.
Several regions have been engulfed by allegations of violations of the party constitution, allegations of vote-buying and task teams have been dispatched by the party’s politburo to investigate. There have also been threats of court actions being launched.
Amukwiyu said that hatred among Swapo members is not constitutional, and thus it should not be used as a tool to break party cadres apart.
“If you are aiming at one party member or if you do not like that person, subject that person to the electoral process for people to choose for themselves. We are not occupying these positions because we have degrees or doctorates, we are not appointed, but we are elected into these positions by those who believed in us,” said Amukwiyu. “If I have violated any section of the party’s constitution, I pledge my head. If they want to suspend me, it’s all up to them, as long as they have valid reasons, but if it is based on hatred and rumours then the public should charge those that are powerful,” he said.
This is not the first time that Amukwiyu has pledged his head, if he is guilty of violating the Swapo Constitution.
During an altercation with Mbumba at the celebration of Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma’s 88th birthday at his Etunda farm near Otavi in May this year, Amukwiyu also pledged his head if he is found to be in violation of the party constitution.
His latest pledge comes at a time when the party’s politburo has dispatched teams to the Oshikoto, Omaheke and Khomas regions, to probe complaints around the manner in which district and regional conferences were conducted.
In Oshikoto, the party has instructed Swapo Deputy Secretary-General Laura McLeod-Katjirua, Deputy Prime Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Works Minister Alpheus !Naruseb and Safety Minister Charles Namoloh to verify the constitutionality of the process followed during the recently concluded extraordinary district conferences.
The team, which is led by McLeod-Katjirua, is further tasked with establishing the validity of the complaints brought against the national leaders assigned to the region, as well the alleged divisions between the regional executive committee (REC) and the regional councillors.
Also at the centre of the controversy is the national leader assigned to Oshikoto, Defence Minister Penda ya Ndakolo, whom the REC wants to be removed because of his alleged interference in the running of the region and his reported attempts to influence the outcome of the party primaries.
The Oshikoto regional conference has been postponed several times, as the head office verification team continues with its work.
Quito Mulunga, a Swapo mobiliser in the Oshikoto region told Confidente this week that the REC had to postpone the regional conference for the “hundredth time”, after they were informed by Mbumba to put it on hold last Friday.
“On Friday, we were informed by Mbumba to put the conference on hold, because of the investigations that are apparently underway. We do not know what we are being investigated for, because they did not inform us on anything. We are still in the dark,” Mulunga said.
He added that a date for the conference will be announced after the investigations are completed.
Embarrassment in the courts
Swapo Secretary for Information and Mobilisation, Helmut Angula said that the verification teams were working in the regions to avoid facing a national embarrassment in the courts.
He explained that it will be embarrassing if the courts find that the rules and procedures of holding such elective meetings were not followed and that party’s constitution was violated.
It is for this reason that Angula believes that the party’s politburo took the decision to dispatch teams to the disputed regions, which will first establish the merits of the complaints.
“I spoke to a lot of people who are complaining, and in some cases people are ready to go to court. This is worrisome and we stopped them by saying, ‘look, let the party first solve this’,” Angula explained.
“The merits of the complaints have to be established first and it if is found that they are not true and procedures were followed, then there is no need for fear of being embarrassed before the courts.”
When asked when the task teams will report back, to the politburo, Angula said, “Whenever they round up and conclude their work.”
With the Swapo Congress slated for November, the party had initially planned on concluding all the district and regional conferences by this month
Angula maintained that should the verification teams find irregularities, the party will nullify the district and regional conferences at which the party constitution was found to be flouted, before starting the process afresh.
In the case of Omaheke, some senior party cadres in the region are calling for the nullification of the Otjinene, Aminius, Otjombinde and Okorukambe district conferences, claiming interference by some members of the REC. However, observers attribute the mess in the region to tribal politics.
In Omaheke the party has sent former National Assembly Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab, former Deputy Prime Ministers Marco Hausiku and Libertina Amathila and Education, Arts and Culture Minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa
The politburo has also assigned a team to the Khomas region, led by former Prime Minister Nahas Angula, Labour Minister Erkki Nghimtina and Trade Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko, who are investigating the alleged gross violation of the party’s constitution and election rules and procedures.
The team is looking at claims that the presence of surveillance cameras, already installed as a security measure at a local university, where the proceedings were held, were used as an intimidation tactic against delegates.
It was also reported that rules and procedures had been flouted, including through businessman Lazarus Jacobs’ chairing of the secretariat section of the meeting.
Another allegation that surfaced was one of vote-buying.
Otjozondjupa Regional Governor Otto Ipinge and Swapo regional district information and mobilisation officer has questioned why his region has been left out from those being investigated.
It is in Otjozondjupa region, the outcome of the Grootfontein district conference is currently before the local court, after police had to be called in to separate opposing factions in May this year. Also in the region, Swapo cadres held a public demonstration against the party’s regional leadership, calling for their removal.
Knives were sharpened and aimed mainly at Otjozondjupa regional coordinator Susan Hikopua.
Ipinge and Okahandja Constituency Councillor Steve Biko Booys,together with Swapo regional treasurer Julius Neumbo, Swapo Party Women’s Council regional coordinator Theresia Kukenge and regional youth wing leader Milo Ipinge who is also the governor’s nephew, have authored a heavily worded letter to Mbumba, in which they ask him to nullify the regional conference which endorsed Hikopua.
In the letter they claim that there was no elections committee and that the national leaders assigned were not visible in the process. They also claim that there were inconsistencies in the district conferences.
Iipinge told Confidente that Otjozondjupa is at boiling point, despite the belief that all is well in the region.
“We have written to the SG and we will continue writing to the SG until we get an answer,” Ipinge added.
“If nothing happens will see and hear from them what to do next.”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015