Ructions in the City of Windhoek’s ruling coalition continue to ripple through the council after the demolishing of shacks last week, which was followed by an apology from certain councillors.
The Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) on Friday disowned the coalition and temporarily suspended their Windhoek City councillors (for a week) from all council activities after the leadership of the party castigated its councillors, and said they “erred in their judgement to have admitted responsibility” alongside the apology offered by mayor Job Amupanda on Thursday.
The Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement’s Amupanda, who used to refer to the coalition as “progressive forces”, railed against both the coalition members and the opposition Swapo in a long rambling press conference.
The party said none of its councillors verified the facts presented by the City Police before agreeing to be part of Amupanda’s mea culpa.
Amupanda said while addressing a media briefing on the incident that what transpired is characterised by a lack of imagination, the impossibility of co-presence, and the paradigm of difference.
He said neither he nor the council had knowledge of the incident until they learned about it on social media, before terming it reckless and irresponsible.
“What occurred yesterday was not sanctioned by the political leadership of the municipal council; to an extent that individual councillors may have been aware of the intended events, such events were not sanctioned by council,” stressed Amupanda.
In letters sent to councillors and the city, the IPC said it “restrained” councillors serving on its ticket for a week.
The party suspended councillors Fillemon Hambuda, Ndeshihafela Larandja and Bernadus Araeb.
The fourth IPC councillor, Desiree Davids, had been suspended at the end of June to allow for an investigation into allegations that an application by her to buy a piece of land in Windhoek was fast-tracked.
On Friday, the party said it is not part of any coalition as from 30 June 2021 as none of the parties and associations signed the coalition agreement that the IPC signed in May 2021.
IPC has four seats, while the AR and the Landless People’s Movement have two each. The Popular Democratic Movement and Nudo have one seat each.
Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said it’s not a wise move to suspend the councillors as the challenges the coalition face in the institution can’t be overcome by councillors alone, as they are structural.
He reiterated that councillors are constrained by the structural challenges, and they do not make decisions on their own.
“Populism is not a policy. This is an attempt to look good in the eyes of the public,” he reasoned.
He further said while it is too early to measure the success or failure of the coalition, the advent of the coalition and its new politics was welcomed by many as it was seen as good news after Swapo dominated council for a long time.
Kamwanyah noted that the rift in the coalition is not good news for the residents of Windhoek as they were expected to address the problems of the people, but are now back to fighting from their own ideological perspectives.
Speaking on the scene on Thursday, IPC president Panduleni Itula told Nampa “we cannot treat our own people like that, we cannot go back to the dark days of apartheid where people’s houses were demolished as if they have no citizenship at all”.
He added that any leader who “seeks to eat ahead of the people he or she is serving” is not a leader. Those who took the decision to demolish the shacks have to explain how they arrived at such a decision, he said.
“We will establish the facts that led to this decision, whether there was a resolution in the city council that led to the demolition, and whether they took into consideration the consequences of the demolition of properties in terms of human suffering and the impact it may have psychologically,” stated Itula.