Some Swapo members from the party’s 14 branches in Kongola district in the Zambezi region are threatening to revolt against the party come the local and regional elections slated for later this year for its alleged failure to resolve long-standing internal disputes.
They say the grievances raised with the national leadership stem from last year’s district conference for the renewal of the mandate in which the party sought to elect new leaders, a process they claim was merely rubber-stamped despite the irregularities listed. The fight arose after the incumbent district coordinator Phellem Simone was re-elected at the hotly disputed conference held on 18 August 2019 whereby only two branches participated in the voting after the other districts boycotted.
These results were accepted by the regional leadership despite concerns that members from the two branches were without membership cards and used police declarations to vote.
These claims were however rubbished by the regional coordinator Moffat Sileze who described the issue as a closed case.
Prior to the 18 August conference two other conferences in which the incumbent lost were held on 30 June and 2 August last year but were cancelled and a rerun was ordered. The group thus claim the party regional leadership has been in favour of the incumbent who lost in the previous election, and thus ensured the incumbent was retained at all costs ignoring the alleged irregularities. This formed the basis of the group boycott, they further reasoning that election observers turned into presiding officers. “The central committee endorsed the election and approved, so we are done with that issue. Take it from me as the head of regional affairs that those people are telling lies, the elections were free and fair. I attended the election as well as another national leader assigned to the region Heather Sibungo, as witnesses. Nothing was wrong – it is only that their favourite candidate didn’t make it,” said Sileze, adding the requisite quorum was met.
Meanwhile the executive director for Swapo, Austin Samupwa, refused to entertain questions related to the matter, saying he does not discuss party internal issues with the media. “I have not seen the letters the people are referring to. There are channels to follow when party members are aggrieved. Therefore, call the regional coordinator of that region, he might know,” responded Samupwa. “In fact, I don’t even know you, how do I ascertain that you are a journalist. You might be claiming to be one while you are not. So I will not divulge any Swapo matter with you,” he insisted.
This reporter has a number of documents from the disgruntled group which they wrote to Sileze and copied to Swapo party secretary general Sophia Shangingwa and subsequently President Hage Geingbo as the head of the party.
“The silence of national leaders not to address this issue shows favouritism and corruption. Why should they keep quiet on such disturbing and unprocedural conduct. If we reach the time of the local and regional elections and this issue is not resolved, we from the 14 branches will not vote for the [Swapo] party, ever,” read one of their statements.