WINDHOEK - Swapo Party secretary general Sophia Shaningwa yesterday came out guns blazing in defence of her recent directives to local authorities on how they should deploy party councillors.
Shaningwa, who this week recalled all Swapo councillors at Oshakati Town Council for allegedly defying her directives, says her orders are lawful and based on merit as viewed from the perspective of the Swapo manifesto.
This week she also directed Okahandja Town Council’s Swapo councillors that current mayor Johannes ‘Congo’ Hindjou be removed from the position and replaced by another councillor.
Shaningwa’s directives furthermore outlined who are the party’s preferred candidates for top positions such as mayor, deputy mayor, chairperson and management council members. Most occupants of these positions were reduced to ordinary council members as a result of the directives from the party headquarters in Windhoek.
“For me to take these decisions is because of the information received from the minister responsible for rural and urban development. The minister knows where the problems are as far as the implementation of the Swapo Party manifesto is concerned,” she explained yesterday.
“Because whatever we are doing as a ruling party, it is for the manifesto to be implemented. So, the secretary general acts upon the advice of the minister. We only touch the Swapo Party councillors. We can’t touch members of other political parties because they are not our delegates,” she reacted.
In her memo addressed to the Swapo Party regional coordinator for Otjozondjupa, Shaningwa directed that the current deputy mayor of Okahandja, Sofia Upithe, takes up a full mayoral post – and effectively replace Hindjou.
She also directed that Gideon Uwa-Khaeb becomes deputy mayor, Hileni Iita takes up the chairperson’s position and Helmi Maruru becomes a member of the management council.
Her directives have not been well received and saw chaos erupt at council chambers on Wednesday, after some Swapo councillors proceeded to nominate Hindjou for the mayor’s position.
A group of demonstrators then barged into council chambers to demand that Hindjou be removed as directed by Shaningwa, but neither side could have its way as a presiding magistrate postponed the election indefinitely.
Some Okahandja Swapo executive district leaders who spoke to New Era expressed their displeasure, saying Shaningwa’s directives were unlawful and that the ruling party’s constitution empowers them to elect their own members at district level.
Shaningwa hit back that such members should know they are not individual candidates but are in council on a Swapo ticket.
“For me to direct is not only I as Sophia Shaningwa. The minister of rural and urban development is fed up with the behaviour of those people. I don’t just give directives; the minister must tell me how these people in local authorities are fairing.” “And if the minister is telling me ‘comrade secretary general, I have a problem in this area, and there must be a change’, I will listen. He doesn’t have the authority to touch those people. Those people are delegates of Swapo Party,” she remarked.
She said the party takes precedence in allocating its candidate as its soldiers, saying no individual persons have mobilised for themselves to get onto councils.
She said if they were independent candidates, they could do as they wish.
“They cannot behave the way they want. Behaving the way they want has come to an end. They should know they are on the party’s ticket. They should know they are delegated by the party. The Swapo Party spent money for that particular mobilisation after the elections of those candidates as were identified from primaries. The party would allocate after they are elected who should be the mayor, deputy mayor, who should be the chairperson of the management committee and who should be ordinary councillors,” she noted.
She explained that every year the party looks at the performances of the cadres it has delegated. The party retains the right to make changes based on various reasons such as performance, she argued.
“When you are a mayor, deputy mayor or chairperson of the management, it’s not eternal. You are going to be changed by the party who in the first place have allocated you that title. I want them to be categorically clear that if there is a cadre who doesn’t want to adhere to the directives of the party, the party can deal with that particular person,” she threatened.
She defended her actions that there is nothing unconstitutional about the changes she directed to various local authorities.
She cited Swapo Constitution’s Chapter 2, Article 4 of Section C that deals with Rights and Obligations. It stipulates that: “A member of Swapo Party has a right: (a) to demand the fulfilment of what is established in this constitution, as well as the implementation of resolutions, decisions, directives and agreements of the Party.”
Therefore, she said that what the party has given is a directive in the constitution they swore to implement.
“There was nothing unconstitutional in that letter. It’s clearly stipulated in the constitution of Swapo Party and not in the document of Sophia Shaningwa as a person. They should understand that and I should indicate that this directive is given not just because the secretary general hates somebody. It was given because of specific reasons that are internal within the Swapo Party,” she stated.
Unrepentant, the defiant Shaningwa said the directives stand, while cautioning critics they should know she was a minister of local governments too. “I know how to run local governments and I was never a failure.”
2018-11-30 09:42:43 6 months ago