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UPM, PDM parliamentary court clash today

2024-03-27  Maria Sheya

UPM, PDM parliamentary court clash today

The fight over parliamentary seats between the United People’s Movement and the Popular Democratic Movement has spilled over to the High Court.

In an urgent application to be heard today, UPM wants the court to invalidate and set aside PDM’s decision to withdraw its president Jan van Wyk and Frans Bertolini from the National Assembly.

The party also wants the court to declare that the swearing-in of PDM members, Loide Iipinge and Katrina Benz is invalid and be set aside. Alternatively, should the court conclude that the withdrawal of its members from the August House was lawful then it must order that the vacant seats be filled by two members of the “UPM down the joint PDM party list” as stated in their coalition agreement.

Furthermore, the court must declare their 28 August 2019 coalition/memorandum of agreement valid and of full force and effect.

The PDM-UPM coalition agreement came into force on 28 August 2019 and is expected to expire in 2025.

According to the agreement, both parties agreed to support PDM presidential candidate McHenry Venaani and UPM will not field any presidential candidate. UPM president or any party member of their choice will serve as a vice president of PDM for the duration of five years and will also serve on its party structures.

As part of the coalition agreement, the UPM also agreed not to contest for National Assembly seats, but to rather join the PDM in canvassing votes for both the Presidential and National Assembly Elections. 

The agreement further states that PDM would control all income received, however, UPM will receive money earned from the parliament seats.

Through this electoral joint venture, the two parties secured 16 seats in parliament.


In court documents, van Wyk says he was shocked on 4 March when he received a letter from PDM directed to National Assembly speaker, Peter Katjavivi requesting his withdrawal and that of fellow party member Bertolini.

This he said was done without any prior engagement.

On 5 March, the party wrote a letter to Katjavivi explaining that what PDM is doing is illegal as UPM is a separate party and PDM cannot remove its members from Parliament.

He said despite this letter, PDM’s Iipinge and Benz were sworn in on 6 March.

“The reasons cited for the withdrawal is apparently the violation of the MoU in that UPM formed a new alliance with the National Empowerment Fighting Corruption (NEFC),” said van Wyk.

NEFC was formed by businesswoman Ally Angula and she will be contesting in the upcoming 2024 presidential elections.

Van Wyk went on to say that nowhere in their agreement does it state that PDM can withdraw UPM members. Furthermore, their agreement states that should there be vacant seats, such seats must be filled by that party. Thus, such seats must be filled by UPM and not PDM.

“It is evident from the MoU that entering into a new alliance did not undermine the existing Mou in any way. UPM alliance with NEFC is in no way affecting the current operations and functioning of the existing MoU as claimed by PDM,” said van Wyk.

He said the matter is urgent as UPM is currently not represented in the National Assembly despite its members having voted for it.

According to van Wyk, the withdrawal of the party from parliament is affecting its funding of nearly N$180 000 monthly.

However, PDM’s secretary general Manuel Ngaringombe said their agreement, UPM must have an alliance and a duty of good faith with PDM. 

“These obligations and duties entail, at the very least, that during the subsistence of the MoU and for as long as the UPM candidates occupy seats in the National Assembly on a PDM ticket, UPM, inclusive of its members holding seats would not join or form any alliance with another political party or support any presidential candidate, independent or otherwise, other than that of PDM,” said Ngaringombe.

He said UPM cannot be in bed with two opposite political parties at the same time or have its bread buttered on both sides. 

PDM wants the court to dismiss UPM’s application stating that it’s not urgent.

In addition, if the court grants UPM’s orders then it will be forced to work with them when the relationship has already become intolerable.

“UPM cannot continue to occupy seats in the National Assembly on a PDM ticket where they have clearly and publicly demonstrated that their allegiance lies elsewhere,” said Ngaringombe.

2024-03-27  Maria Sheya

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