… Amid claims of flagrant abuse of party rules at Khomas conference
By Elvis Muraranganda
THE recently-concluded Swapo Khomas Regional Conference has been engulfed by claims that the surveillance cameras already installed as a security measure at a local university, where the proceedings were held last Saturday, were used as an intimidation tactic against delegates.
There have also been claims that the party’s rules and procedures were violated.
According to disgruntled delegates, who spoke to Confidente this week, they were told during a closed session that they were being recorded, which made them feel intimidated.
Those who attended the conference, which elected the region’s delegates for the upcoming Swapo Congress in November, said the Director of Elections, Etuna Josua, declared that the entire conference was under surveillance and that voting had to take place in a different hall.
Josua, however, denied saying this to delegates.
“As the Director of Elections, I was explaining to the delegates that no cellphones and recording equipment will be allowed to be used in the meeting,” he said.
A spokesperson for the university told Confidente that there are indeed surveillance cameras and other security equipment in the lecture halls.
“These are multi-million dollar buildings, with multi-million dollar equipment, and in this crime-infested country of ours, there is no way you can leave this equipment at the mercy of criminals,” he said.
“If there are allegations that this equipment was installed to monitor and record private meetings, this is false.”
Among the other allegations that have surfaced is that delegates were initially told that another hall would be used for voting purposes, where delegates would have entered one by one, to vote.
However, after an objection, the voting took place in the other hall, but delegates did not enter one by one, and crowded into the venue.
Delegates also complained to Confidente that the rules and procedures of the Swapo Constitution had been flouted, including through businessman Lazarus Jacobs’ chairing of the secretariat section of the meeting.
Jacobs explained that he was invited in his capacity as a member of the Swapo Khomas regional executive, by regional coordinator, Elliot Mbako, and that he had not directed the elections.
“I know this is a political year, and people are coming up with all sorts of allegations. This is not the first time that I have chaired a regional conference. Ask the regional coordinator, because I received the letter (asking me to chair) from him,” Jacobs said.
Delegates said that Article XIII of the Swapo Constitution states that the regional coordinator, who in the Khomas region is Mbako, should have presided over the proceedings.
However, because Mbako was standing for election, he approached and Josua to fulfil his duties.
There was unhappiness, because some delegates felt that the Swapo Constitution had been violated, because national leaders assigned to region should have been roped in to preside, including National Council Chairperson Margareth Mensah-Williams, Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein or Swapo Party Women’s Council Secretary Eunice Iipinge.
Jacobs’ business partner in Paragon Investment Holdings, Desmond Amunyela, who is also the Swapo Windhoek East District Treasurer, also presented a financial report at the conference, allegedly at the behest of Swapo Regional Treasurer, Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun.
Delegates said she had no right to do this or even be present, because he was not a delegate.
Asked about this, Jacobs said, “Was he not a delegate? As for Desmond, please ask the regional coordinator.”
During the elections, Mbako was re-elected, beating City of Windhoek councillor, Moses Shiikwa, while Namundjebo-Tilahun was also re-elected to her position.
Mariam Onesmus was re-elected as Secretary for Information and Mobilisation, which is a fulltime position, while she continues to be a Ministry of Finance senior official.
Mbako was not available for comment.
Task teams dispatched to regions
The cloud engulfing the Swapo Khomas Regional Conference comes as irregularities have also surfaced in other regions, with the ruling party dispatching tasks teams to investigate, who are yet to report back to the politburo.
So far task teams have been dispatched to the Omaheke, Otjozondjupa, Hardap and Oshikoto regions to probe how district conferences were conducted.
Should traces of maladministration and misconduct be found, the party leadership could declare the district conferences null and void, before calling for fresh elections.
This was confirmed by Swapo Secretary for Information and Mobilisation, Helmut Angula, who indicated that the tasks teams will report their findings to the party’s politburo.
Allegations include the involvement on regional leadership in district conferences, the fielding of Namibian police officers as presiding officers and intimidation.
In Omaheke, infighting and political manoeuvring had intensified to such a point that cadres exchanged blows and damaged personal property in the Okorukambe District recently.
At Kalkrand, angry Swapo comrades fumed at how a district conference was allegedly supervised and conducted by police officers.
Chaos also rocked the election of a new district leadership at Otjiwarongo, after Swapo politicians disagreed about whether the old leadership should stay on until their term expires in September.
Again, the police were called in to defuse the confrontation.
This also led to a stand-off between senior regional leaders and Swapo regional coordinator Susan Hikopua, who came out publicly to dispel rumours that she was running a campaign against President Hage Geingob in the Otjozondjupa region.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015