Staff Reporter Windhoek-The chairperson of the Swapo disciplinary committee, Pohamba Shifeta, yesterday said the committee may not involve itself in current internal squabbles, two of which are in court ahead of tomorrow’s opening of the elective congress, unless formal complaints are laid and procedurally. The committee, introduced after the ruling party’s extraordinary congress in Swakopmund in 2013, has received a backlash from some members who believe it is invisible at a time when ill-discipline seems to have taken its toll on the party. Shifeta replaced Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange as chairperson of the committee after the latter’s term expired. During Tjiriange’s chairmanship, other members of the committee were Dr Libertine Amathila (deputy chairperson), Dr Theo Ben Gurirab, Doreen Sioka, Willem Konjore, Connie Pandeni, Tommy Nambahu and Jermana Shitale. Current members are Shifeta, Sioka (deputy chairperson), Elia Manga, Lidwina Shapwa, Hilma Nicanor, Johanna Kandjimi, John Walenga and Dr Samuel Mbambo. The committee was established to keep order and prevent the abuse of fellow party members, amongst other principles. With many perceived misconducts being committed as members jostle for representation at the congress – which kicks off tomorrow in Windhoek – the committee came in for harsh criticism for its perceived inactivity in the face of alleged violations. The scramble for representation at congress, where leaders for the top four positions and members of the central committee will be elected, has seen two cases filed in the High Court. The cases were lodged in court by groups from Omaheke and Hardap regions. During primaries in Omaheke, contestation got heated to the extent that the police had to be called in to pull warring comrades apart as they threatened to harm each other. Despite widespread allegations of violations, the committee did not preside over any hearing against perceived transgressors, sparking wide condemnation of its members. In response, Shifeta yesterday explained that the committee does not deal with administrative matters, but only cases where the party’s code of conduct is perceived to have been violated. “We deal with major misconducts that could warrant expulsions, suspensions or those where a member can get a warning. Not administrative issues. Minor misconducts can even be addressed at a branch level,” he told New Era yesterday. Shifeta said the committee by law only recognises complaints that have been submitted to it by a recognised party organ, structure or the office of the secretary-general. “We do not, as a matter of constitution, entertain cases submitted by individuals or unrecognised structures,” he said. “Those bodies, organs or the party itself through the SG’s office must charge the person and submit a statement of particulars. The accused person must get 30 days to admit or deny accusations, and if they admit guilt the matter must be dealt with by the initiator instead of bringing it to us,” Shifeta, the minister of environment and tourism, said. “The only time a matter where a person has admitted guilt may come to us is for mitigation, but it must still go through the SG’s office.” He said if a person denies guilt, they must appear before the committee in 21 days. “We will then give our findings to the SG. The accusation against us is that we are supposedly idle while there are violations taking place in the party. We, as a committee, cannot initiate hearings and adjudicate on them. It’s against the law of natural justice. We can’t both be the initiator and adjudicator.” “How can a magistrate charge a person and prosecute him also? Before charging a person, the initiator must contact the office of the secretary for legal affairs for guidance.” Shifeta also explained that the committee only has jurisdiction over card-carrying members of the party, and not supporters. “Our jurisdiction is limited to those who signed up to uphold the obligations and statutes of the party. We don’t have jurisdiction to [discipline] mere party supporters,” he concluded.
2017-11-22 09:39:39 9 months ago