ONGWEDIVA – Amidst the internal wrangles brought by Swapo’s just-ended seventh elective congress, Swapo veteran Helmut Angula has called for calm within the party, and for members to focus on finding amicable solutions to rectify the mistakes.
Angula’s statement came after a scramble surrounding a decision to verify and certify results of the party’s central committee (CC) elections.
The presiding officer of the elections, Joshua Kaumbi, had admitted to mistakes during the reading out of the central committee list.
On Wednesday night, the top leadership ordered Kaumbi and his team to verify and certify the CC votes, a decision received with mixed feelings.
Some questioned the leadership’s mandate, on the rationale that there is a vacuum in the decision-making body, while others called for the nullification of the votes of the entire congress.
Leaping to the defence of Kaumbi, Angula said the responsibility for the votes has never been with the central committee, but with the returning officer. Therefore, he is eligible to verify the votes.
“He acknowledged his mistake, and he just needs to rectify it,” the veteran added.
As one of the frontliners and curators of the amended Swapo constitution, Angula said there is nothing unconstitutional about recounting.
“Of course, now there is a vacuum, and the party is in no position to decide because there is no constitutional body that has a constitutional mandate from congress. Right now, the CC is non-existent because the former committee has left office, and the current one was supposed to be composed of the elected members plus others. So, in that case, the only solution is for the returning officer to take charge of the recounting and allocate the votes appropriately,” he reasoned.
Angula also believes that as long as the elected top four are not going to be involved in the recounting process, the votes just need to be validated.
“I don’t think there is a problem with how people voted; the problem is with the mechanical allocation of votes. That can be corrected by recounting, and the best way to recount is not only to recount the number of people who passed the line, but just to count the entire votes,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) leader Willem Amutenya, whose name appears on the successful list of male candidates for the central committee, challenged the decision to “verify and certify” the votes.
He argued the party does not have a structure called top four in its decision-making structures.
If the president, VP, SG, and DSG, who were elected in congress, presided over the “unfaithful and dishonest team” responsible for the blunder have the decision-making power, then the CC-elect should also have those powers. “Thus, the CC-elect should attend to the petition, as per the rules and procedures,” he argued.
Amutenya, who was also the youngest CC candidate, complained that “the whole election process is a serious mess and downgrading of Swapo as an organization”.
Youth leader Ndahafa Hapulile was another member who questioned this mandate.
However, Swapo veteran Hadino Hishongwa asked party members not to underestimate the authority of the newly-elected leadership.
“After all, they are the top leadership of the party, and they have the authority to instruct and call the party to order,” he said.
Credibility at stake
Having not fully recovered from the aftermath of the 2017 elective congress, some Swapo members are fearful that the ghosts of division from the sixth congress might continue to haunt them.
“What happened is more than just an elementary mistake; it is a big error that should not have happened,” said another Swapo member, Ben Mulongeni.
“That mistake is what is going to cost us a lot because right now, our credibility as a party is at stake. How are we going to be trusted if we can afford to make such mistakes? Even after the verification and certification of the votes, the entire process will still be questionable”, he stressed.
Mulongeni further described the standoff over the central committee as shameful and a disgrace.
“What just happened was shameful and a disgrace to the once mighty Swapo Party with competent cadres in terms of experience and education. People are getting used to approaching everything corruptly,” said the Swapo veteran.
Mulongeni observed that members should have learnt a thing or two from the 2017 congress.
“The wounds have not yet healed, but there is still a tendency of making deliberate mistakes to destroy the party from within. People are so used to doing wrong things right instead of right things right,” he argued.
Supporting Mulongeni’s sentiments, Hishongwa is also of the belief that the CC mistake will cost the party heavily.
“That was embarrassing and unacceptable. Maybe we have put the wrong people in the right places. As a governing party, we are destroying our own credibility,” he said.
Although Angula likewise believes that the credibility of the party will be questioned, he felt that “all mistakes can be corrected.”
New Era understands the verification of votes commenced at 09h00 yesterday, as instructed by the top leadership.
Decisive… The top four leadership of the ruling party.
Photo: Emmency Nuukala