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UDF: Things fall apart

2024-01-22  Eveline de Klerk

UDF: Things fall apart

SWAKOPMUND - The United Democratic Front (UDF)'s congress turned into a battlefield on Saturday after the leadership that had been steering the party for the past 10 years was abruptly dissolved, thereby avoiding accountability. 

As a result, the about 500 delegates to the watershed congress failed to reach consensus, leading to chaos and a delay in the long-awaited crucial vote, with the Presidential and National Assembly elections looming and looking the party dead in the eye. 

The UDF is one of the oldest political parties in Namibia, which has not seen leadership changes for over a decade. Its top leadership has thus faced constant criticism from the youth members for clinging onto power.

Incumbent party leader Apius Auchab was expected to defend his territory against his deputy and veteran politician Dudu Murorua, Kunene Regional Council chairperson and Sesfontein constituency councillor Hendrik Gaobaeb, as well as deputy Omaruru mayor Christian !Nanuseb.

A competitive field of 18 candidates took each other on for the top eight leadership positions. 

Apart from the above, Michael Skinni and Tina Harases were to battle it out for the vice presidency. 

As for the secretary general position, contenders included Simson Ochurub, Daniel Tsaneb, Hage Gawaseb and Davey van Wyk. Seriana Mukuta and Kallista Kausiona, amongst others, would vie for positions such as national and deputy treasurer, secretary for information, national organiser, and treasurer.



Locking horns behind closed doors, the voting process was stalled to such an extent that none of the positions were finalised by yesterday afternoon. 


The angered party members said they have been demanding financial, presidential and progress reports for the party’s top structure long before the elective congress was supposed to take place.

The internal squabbles resulted in the elective congress being delayed. Initially, the election process was expected to start at 14h30 on Saturday, but only began around 24h00. 

This congress is the UDF’s first in 10 years, following its last congress in 2013.


Members questioned the agenda sent out just hours before the congress was supposed to take place. “The agenda is a joke. How do you have speeches, but leave out the most crucial part? These leaders led the party for the past 10 years, but show the highest disregard by simply failing to face those who voted them into power,” a party member said shortly after the leadership was dissolved on Saturday.

Belinda Garoes, a branch member from Okahandja, also expressed discontent over the proceedings, stating that their rights to question the leaders were abused. 

“Instead of allowing us to ask questions, they called Auchab. They cheated us out of the most critical part. People have now been voted off, and there is no leader who can answer us now,” a fuming Garoes said.

No accountability

Pieter Ushona said there is no accountability or remorse from the outgoing leadership. 

He claimed that they are disregarding the constitution of the party and those who put them in these leadership positions. 

“As per our understanding, there must be a presidential, secretary general’s and finance report presented at the congress, as the election is just an agenda point on its own at the congress,” he opined.

Ushona mentioned that their expectations were not met, and the worst part is that the president even provided the central committee with amendments on how the congress should be conducted. 

“Where should the members ask for those reports, and who should give them? They really used us and showed no respect towards the party,” he charged.


Not our fault

Outgoing secretary general Gawaseb has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he does not understand why there should be unhappiness about financial matters in the party. 

“As a political party, we audit our financial matters every year and share qualified audit reports, as required by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN). According to the structure of the party, the central committee is the one which should hold meetings, and share these reports with the members. This is not the fault of top management,” Gawaseb said during an interview with New Era.

He said the central committee, through discussions, decided to host an electoral congress, not a national congress. 

“Our constitution clearly stipulates that financial reports, general reports and presidential reports must be given at a national congress. The ones who are dissatisfied today were the ones moving towards the elective congress so that they take down the current leadership,” Gawaseb stated.


Party assets

Outgoing president Auchab said the party under the outgoing leadership increased its portfolio, despite shortcomings. 

He observed that they managed to revive regional and party structures, bought properties for diversifying income, and acquired vehicles for the party. 

“We are only receiving funds from the government, which is not enough for the party going forth. They must start with income-generating activities so that the party can fund more activities,” he urged.

Auchab denied misleading the members, stating that the elective congress is not the right platform to demand reports, and another meeting should be called if members want these reports to be tabled.



2024-01-22  Eveline de Klerk

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