New Era Newspaper

New Era Epaper
Icon Collap
Home / Divided opposition enters City vote

Divided opposition enters City vote

2023-01-19  Edward Mumbuu

Divided opposition enters City vote

A last-minute attempt to resolve the leadership impasse at the Windhoek municipality ended in a cul-de-sac, after parties failed to reach a consensus on an array of issues.

Since the turn of the year, political actors have been burning the midnight oil in a bid to find common ground on the way forward.

Now the knives across the political divide are sharpened ahead of a crescendo tonight, when the politicians vote for the mayor, deputy mayor and members of the all-powerful management committee (MC).

It is the first special council meeting for the year, following December’s ordinary meeting whose crucial election fell flat, following a walkout by Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) and Swapo councillors.

The instruction from the urban ministry is clear: elect political office bearers and appoint a CEO. 

On Monday, National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) secretary general Joseph Kauandenge convened urgent crisis meetings for opposition parties ahead of today’s vote.

The meetings took place on Monday and Tuesday.

Kauandenge’s dream to see a united opposition squaring off against Swapo during tonight’s vote, failed.

The meetings were dominated by clashes between warring political parties, primarily on who should occupy the different positions. 

A version corroborated by several people who attended the meetings suggests that the Affirmative Reposition (AR) movement and Landless People’s Movement (LPM) had no qualms with working with other political parties on the council except for the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC). 

The IPC, on the other hand, was not going to allow itself to be used as a pawn in a political chess game, now that their numbers are needed to keep Swapo at bay.

This is because AR’s Ilse Keister last year detonated a motion of no confidence that toppled the then IPC-dominated MC.

Keister at the time held that the IPC had exposed the entire council to a third unelected force. 

IPC has not forgotten, it appears.

Meanwhile, with one member each on the 15-member council, Nudo and the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) largely looked on in anticipation of the direction the wind would take.

The latter group, New Era understands, is prepared to work with whatever possible coalition emerges. 

“The parties have reached a deadlock. Maybe tonight, some will find a common ground before the vote. Swapo will be the powerbroker once again. LPM and AR don’t want to work with IPC, while IPC also doesn’t want to work with them.

“IPC’s argument is that, why are they important now after the same parties passed a vote of no confidence in their councillors?” the source said.

Approached for comment, a disappointed Kauandenge said: “I tried my level best to bring the parties together but they don’t want to work together, it seems. Nudo and PDM don’t have a problem with anyone. We are in the minority.”

Swapo dominates the council with five members, followed by IPC’s four while LPM and AR have two representatives each.  


It is IPC’s argument that tonight’s vote is a numbers game and the party will be counted.

“We are here legitimately and they cannot wish us away,” its national spokesperson Imms Nashinge said.

IPC’s decision not to be used to advance others’ political interests, Nashinge said, was taken out of principle.

“We are here to represent the interest of the people on behalf of organised political parties rather than individual projects representing individual interests,” the firebrand said.

Nashinge then downplayed the significance of the opposition family meeting, saying personal interests overshadowed actual municipal work: service delivery.

The vote of no confidence, which he branded illegal, damaged their reputation and cannot just be swept under the rug for convenience.

The outspoken Nashinge also expressed disappointment in the opposition’s mentality.

According to him, the opposition only sit around the table when it is time to decide leadership positions, but are nowhere when it comes to dealing with bread-and-butter issues.

“We are running after removing statues while our people are relieving themselves in plastic bags. We are doing a disservice to the residents, the city and the entire nation. This is not a private shebeen. What we do here, Namibians must be proud of,” he said. 

IPC, he continued, will support council members elected either as mayor, deputy mayor or to the MC as long as they have the capacity. It is not a popularity contest, he maintained.

Status quo

Meanwhile, people with intricate knowledge of the city’s inner dealings, suggest that the status quo will remain.

This is to say, former mayor Sade Gawanas will be re-elected.

Keister could also retain the MC chairpersonship, joined by LPM’s Ivan Skrywer, Swapo’s Austin Kwenani and Sam Shafiishuna Nujoma and PDM’s Clemensia Hanases to form the apex body.

The parties, however, disagree on the deputy mayor’s position, it is said.

Nudo’s Joseph Uapingene, who occupied the deputy mayoral position, is allegedly unwanted by some in the silent coalition who “don’t trust him or know where he stands on key matters.”

If it comes to pass, it will be a replica of a marriage of convenience between the AR, LPM, PDM and Swapo, to the exclusion of Nudo.

Efforts to solicit comments from political party representatives at Kauandenge’s meeting yesterday were futile.




Meanwhile, Gawanas blew her own trumpet in the 2022 mayoral report, saying a lot was done during her reign.

“Much has been done and dusted. We move,” she tweeted recently, summing up their work.

According to Gawanas, the entire council deserves a pat on the back for concluding the recruitment process of the municipality’s CEO.

The mayoral report started circulating last week. 

The former mayor points to the botched appointment of Conrad Lutombi as CEO as an achievement.  

“If anything, this is perhaps one of the most significant achievements to date in that now, we have an accounting officer whose role is to ensure that we keep focused on our residents’ needs and that we are financially sustainable without compromising the need for critical human resources, to service an expanding city, growing population, rapid rural to urban migration trends and, the increasing need for technological innovation, to complement the way we work, live and play,” she says in the report.

This is despite the fact that Lutombi pulled out at the 11th hour, instead opting to remain with the Roads Authority. 

“I believe this past year has also seen tremendous progress in the implementation of high-impact resolutions and projects and I anticipate even greater performance over the 2023/2024 financial year,” the LPM says.

Gawanas then delved into the challenges confronting the city.


Standing head and shoulders above the rest is the question of housing and land delivery.

She attributed this to the rapid rural to urban migration.  

“This fact is especially challenging in terms of land and housing delivery,” she says.

The council entered into 14 public-private partnership agreements and one co-development, for the servicing of 2 903 erven.

This includes 2 429 residential plots, 237 general residential plots, 125 business and 16 institutional erven.

“From the given total, 1 076 residential and single residential zoned erven are at sales stage and over 90% are sold. The project team is working at full speed to accelerate the completion of the projects still in the design and construction phase and those at statutory planning phase. We are looking at further fast-tracking delivery and cancelling agreements that have not benefited the council,” she added. 

In addition, 346 houses were constructed through the informal settlement affordable housing project. 

Gawanas also considers the removal of the Curt von François statue a resounding success.

The statue was unveiled in October 1965, during the 75-year anniversary celebration of the founding of Windhoek under German colonial rule.

“As political leaders, this was perhaps the most eventful, challenging year and the balancing of conflicting priorities, political agendas against residents’ needs, was indeed an important learning curve. I believe that as a council, we have much to be proud of despite some of our differences and attempts to derail the appointment of the CEO,” Gawanas said.

Caption: Election… The City of Windhoek will vote for political office bearers tonight. 

Photo: Emmency Nuukala



2023-01-19  Edward Mumbuu

Share on social media