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DTA decries ‘unlevel playing field’

2014-12-04  Mathias Haufiku

DTA decries ‘unlevel playing field’
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WINDHOEK - Namibian business people were accused of last “killing democracy” by only funding the ruling Swapo Party for its campaigns, while some MPs allegedly claimed S&T in excess as an excuse to bleed state coffers as they criss-crossed the country to campaign for the ruling party prior to last Friday’s elections. DTA of Namibia president McHenry Venaani who is the runner-up to Dr Hage Geingob in the presidential election and whose party came second to Swapo, yesterday spoke about the “unlevel playing field that favours Swapo”. Venaani also took a hard swipe at a wide range of social issues such as greed, inequality, fragmented opposition parties and “skewed political party funding” during a press conference, which was specially convened by the party to thank Namibians who voted for the DTA and its presidential candidate. Venaani warned that democracy in the country is under threat because of the way political parties are funded, a practice that according to him is leading Namibia towards becoming a one-party state. While thanking the electorate - albeit those who voted for him and his party - Venaani spoke widely yesterday on several issues which he feels are “holding back the country”. He also used the opportunity to warn the four DTA members who will accompany him to parliament to brace themselves for five years of hard work premised on addressing the plight of “suffering Namibians”. Parliament In the National Assembly next year Venaani will be accompanied by Jennifer Van den Heever, Vipuakuje Muharukua, Elma Dienda and Nico Smit. The group will be replacing the party’s long-serving MPs Phillemon Moongo and former party president Katuutire Kaura when the new parliament is sworn in. Van den Heever, a social worker by profession, and Muharukua, a lawyer, will be making their debut in the august House, while the trio of Venaani, Dienda and Smit will be making their comeback to the legislature. Venaani said the DTA delegation to the National Assembly would not be Swapo-bashers in the debates but contribute to nation building. “We have a formidable team of professionals. We will not only criticise the ruling party but will also come up with ideas while holding them accountable at the same time,” pledged Venaani. Venaani said he would use the unlimited speaking time which he will enjoy as leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly to exhaust social issues. “I will maximise the unlimited time I will have to talk about issues that need to be discussed, I will not be like Hidipo [Hamutenya] who failed to make use of that time,” avowed Venaani in reference to the ageing Hamutenya. S&T Legislators have over the years spent considerable time globetrotting in attending often meaningless conferences and other international conventions and in the process raking in thousands of taxpayers’ money in S&T than being in chambers, which Venaani cautioned against and warned his delegation they will be in for a big shock if globetrotting is on their agenda when they are sworn in next year. “People are just greedy by wanting to rake in S&T all the time instead of being in parliament addressing issues affecting Namibians. DTA MPs will not be going on unnecessary trips for the sake of raking in money, we will only attend the important ones, otherwise we will be in parliament fighting for our people,” he said. Venaani stressed that some parties also performed poorly during the elections because, instead of attending parliamentary sessions and party sessions, they expended their energies globetrotting to fill their pockets. “Some of them even know which trips to go on so that they can claim nicely – if they are sent to Luanda [Angola] they will not go, but if it is New York [United States of America] they are the first in line,” quipped Venaani. “DTA members will not be in parliament to travel, read newspapers or sleep, we will spend our energy serving the needs of our people,” he assured voters. Political party funding Venaani also slammed private institutions that channel funds to the ruling Swapo Party in order to receive lucrative state contracts. Although most parties want political party funding by the state to be distributed on an equal basis, the country’s electoral law states that political party funding should be done on the basis of proportional representation. “In most cases the funding is skewed because most companies fund the ruling party at the expense of the opposition. Most of them do this because they want favours from government when it comes to getting state contracts. Corporate companies must be blamed for contributing greatly to the death of democracy in this country because they only fund the ruling party,” lamented Venaani. The 37-year-old urged the business community to divide funding between political parties if democracy is to be kept alive. The SADC Electoral Observation Mission to the Republic of Namibia on Sunday released a statement in which it says stakeholders it engaged during consultations alleged the unequal use of public resources, resulting in unfair advantage for the ruling Swapo Party. Equally, the African Union Electoral Observer Mission that was also in the country for the elections implored the Namibian parliament to amend the electoral law to regulate sources of party funding and to provide mandatory ceilings on campaign expenditure to ensure fair access to resources amongst political parties. Earlier this year another opposition party Nudo also accused the private sector of only supporting Swapo. “What they should do instead is to collect funds among themselves and divide those funds among the political parties. We must remember that the opposition parties are the ones maintaining the ruling party by not attempting to topple the government or engage in any form of political violence that will directly affect the business operations of the private sector and derail the peace of the country,” said Nudo secretary general Vetaruhe Kandorozu at the time. By Mathias Haufiku
2014-12-04  Mathias Haufiku

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