Political analysts yesterday reacted to this week’s City of Windhoek council elections with some predicting a “gridlock”.
The Wednesday council elections saw 33-year-old Landless People’s Movement councillor Sade Gawanas being elected as mayor, replacing Job Amupanda of the Affirmative Repositioning. She is deputised by Nudo’s Joseph Uapingene.
The elections that confirmed the collapse of the coalition referring to themselves as “the progressive forces” also saw a seemingly new coalition being formed between Independent Patriotic for Change (IPC), LPM and National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) being formed.
IPC has four seats on the city council, while LPM and Nudo have two and one seat respectively. In the “opposition” benches is Swapo with five seats, AR (two) and the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) with one seat.
The elections also saw IPC’s Ndeshihafela Larandja being the management committee chairperson while IPC Bernardus Araeb, IPC Jürgen Hecht and IPC Ottilie Uukule, who was sworn in to replace Desiree Davids were elected to serve in the management committee. The other member of the management committee is LPM’s Ivan Skrywer. Amupanda and Ilse Keister of AR, as well as Clemencia Hanases from the PDM, will serve as ordinary council members, alongside Swapo councillors Fransina Kahungu, Queen Kamati, Magdalena Lombardt, Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma and Austin Kwenani. Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Graham Hopwood said there is a danger of gridlock going forward if the eight councillors outside the ruling coalition decided to block key decisions. “There is clearly a lot of disunity among councillors at the moment,” Hopwood said, adding that IPC may dominate the management committee but do not have an overall majority - even with LPM and Nudo support - to push through their plans. “They will have to compromise on all sides so that the council tackle the urgent service delivery challenges facing Windhoek. Since the next local elections are four years away, it is to be hoped the councillors can find consensus on crucial issues and do not descend into partisan bickering which will not help the capital’s needy citizens,” Hopwood said. Political analyst and lecturer at the University of Namibia’s Rundu campus Gerson Sindano said IPC, LPM and Nudo out-manoeuvred Swapo, AR and PDM who individually did not have the numerical advantage. He said for as long as Swapo, PDM and AR do not form a coalition to have a numerical advantage, IPC, Nudo and LPM will continue to monopolise the political theatre of the council. “AR seems to be too self-centred to consider forming a coalition with Swapo party. Equally, Swapo seems politically timid to go into coalition with PDM and AR,” he said, adding that as it stands, PDM appears to be the kingmaker. “Swapo can easily engage PDM. Going forward, it will not take long before LPM and IPC have issues if IPC is to be judged by their recent political modus operandi,” he said. Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah believes the council’s kingmaker is Swapo because, at any given time, the majority party on the city council can side with either of the two minority coalitions. In his outgoing speech, Amupanda said his movement remains committed and fight for the interests of the residents of Windhoek as an ordinary councillor. He said that there is the possibility that the leadership of the city will achieve a lot as there are few things that are already achieved during the first year. “Now as councillors, we need to think what we can do to make sure that the non-recognised community in the city are recognised. The fact that the economy is owned by whites cannot be changed. That is what I want us to think about,” he said. “We are still within and we will fight for the best interest of the residents of Windhoek. I am still committed that we will fight for the bright future.” Outgoing deputy mayor Hanases said she will be committed to fighting for the interest of the residents of Windhoek for the next four years. “I am confident that we will achieve a lot as councillors. I am thankful to everyone who trusted me with the position. We are here to serve the residents but not for positions. We came in as councillors and we continue as councillors,” she said. She added that councillors must concentrate on delivering what is expected of them instead of competing on things that are not beneficial to the residents.
Boss of the bosses… The new members of the city’s management committee.
Photo: City of Windhoek