RUNDU – The ruling party Swapo yesterday said it was ‘breaking news’ to hear that its functionaries on the Rundu Town Council chose a new mayor and filled other council positions in a manner contrary to the party directive.
Swapo Secretary-General Sophia Shaningwa and the party politburo had ordered that council retains the status quo, which would have kept Verna Sinimbo as mayor.
Swapo councillors yesterday defied this directive by electing Isack Kandingu as the new mayor of Rundu. Kandingu was sworn in minutes after the nomination and election process.
At 10h00 yesterday Rundu residents walked in the council chambers to witness the swearing-in of the office bearers, after Shaningwa had set yesterday as D-day for the ceremony.
When Magistrate Sonia Samupofu started the proceedings, former deputy mayor Ralph Ihemba nominated Sinimbo for the mayor’s but no one seconded the nomination.
Facing an impasse, the magistrate adjourned the proceedings for five minutes.
After returning from the break, Swapo councillors elected Kandingu as mayor and Toini Hausiku (wife of Swapo Party School rector Marco Hausiku) as deputy mayor.
Anastacia Antonio retained her position as chairperson of the management committee, while Matthews Wakudumo of All People’s Party (APP) was elected as a new member of the management committee.
The remaining positions in the management committee were left for another day as there was no nomination after former mayor Sinimbo and Ihamba rejected nominations. Reginald Ndara of Rundu Concerned Citizens Association (RCCA) refused to participate in the proceedings.
Both Sinimbo and Ihemba were nominated for the deputy mayor’s position but rejected the nominations.
Shaningwa refused to comment when asked how she felt that her directive was defied.
“Sorry I don’t report to newspapers,” he quipped. “You are breaking the news to me but I have people who must report back to me.”
Kavango East’s Swapo Regional Coordinator Otilie Shinduvi reacted with shock to the news, saying she expected party councillors to obey Shaningwa’s directive.
“I still didn’t get the report as I am currently in the field. Anyways since the beginning of this whole situation my input was not there because the directive came straight from the SG. I was just the channel of communication. If you read the latest letter the SG wrote, it’s very clear it was directed to the district executive,” said Shinduvi.
“In our political system, town council report to the district coordinator and when the district coordinator picks up something he comes to me, only then will we discuss it. So far the latest event has not been brought to my attention and I’m still unaware of what is going on, I’m in the (mahangu) field maybe I will be briefed when I get to the office later,” Shinduvi said.
Sinimbo, when asked to comment on the turn of events, said she was unable to comment at the time, only saying that “Swapo is bigger than individuals.”
The Rundu Town Council consists of five Swapo members, one councillor from the Rundu Concerned Citizens Association (RCCA) and one councillor from APP.
The Rundu Town Council has been operating without councillors (political office bearers) since 21 November 2018 as a result of divisions among the councillors regarding re-electing Sinimbo as mayor. As a result, the swearing-in of councillors was called off twice last year.
New Era could not get hold of the Swapo district executives for Rundu for a comment by the time of going to print.