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Editorial - Swapo elections and the credibility test

2022-12-02  Staff Reporter

Editorial - Swapo elections and the credibility test

An elementary schoolboy mistake plunged the Swapo Party into an unprecedented constitutional crisis this week. The damning error threw the outcome of the ruling party’s central committee elections into disarray after it emerged that a totally wrong list of successful candidates was read out during the closing ceremony at the seventh elective congress on Monday night. The embarrassing events not only brought into question the credibility of the returning officer, but undermined the legitimacy of the electoral process, including the general acceptability of the outcome. 

It was definitely a baptism of fire for youthful lawyer Joshua Kaumbi, who had replaced the seasoned Sisa Namandje as presiding officer. The female list, in particular, was questioned by delegates as it blatantly only reflected in alphabetical order the names of the so-called successful candidates. 

The list was headlined by freelance journalist Tuulikki Abraham, who was on the ticket of the Swapo Party Elders’ Council, Cornetha Adams of the Kunene region and followed by Gisela Amadhila of the Former Plan Combatants’ Association and Oshana-based Naemi Amuthenu. 

The list would further continue in alphabetical order until the last eligible female candidate at position 35, Sirka Kapanga. Bigwigs such as Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila, Cabinet minister Anna Nghipondoka, deputy ministers Verna Sinimbo, Jennelly Matundu, Kornelia Shilunga, Hilma Nikanor and parliamentarians Lucia Witbooi and Evelyn !Nawases-Taeyele all appeared to have missed the cut. 

Those fortunate enough and whose surnames appear high on the alphabet such as Kavango West governor Sirkka Ausiku, Minister in the Presidency Christine //Hoebes, deputy Swapo Party Youth League secretary Christine Haindaka and veterans like Ida Hoffman, Petrina Haingura, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa and Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana featured on the 35-member female list. Strangely, Tsumeb mayor Mathews Hangula also featured at number 18 on the female list. 

Returning officer Kaumbi admitted a “genuine mistake” led to the confusion, which has been frowned upon by many within the party, while there have been calls to nullify the outcome. Another contentious issue is the involvement of the top four leadership, who on Wednesday evening ordered a total verification and certification of the central committee vote by Kaumbi and all observers who were part of the elections of the vice president, secretary general and deputy secretary general. 

Irrespective of the outcome, the sure thing here is that these blunders will haunt the returning officer for quite some time. His chances of running Swapo elections has also taken a knock, and it remains to be seen if the ruling party will consider his involvement, going forward. 

Nevertheless, it is our sincere hope that the ruling party has learned from this mistake. Irrespective of the outcome, Swapo leaders need to assure the party’s faithful, rank and file and the nation at large that a range of measures will be put in place to help protect the voting delegates, while securing the electoral process. 

Electoral integrity remains one of the most important elements of democracy. 

Therefore, Swapo, as a party that fought for democracy, should be at the forefront of ensuring that it delivers a secure and trusted internal election. 

2022-12-02  Staff Reporter

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