OMUTHIYA - A former regional councillor in the Oshikoto region, who was nominated to contest for the district coordinator position, has failed the vetting test for supporting Dr Panduleni Itula’s presidential candidacy last year.
The former Omuthiya constituency councillor Armas Amukoto was nominated along with current Omuthiya mayor Katrina Uusiku and Ilia Nghipundjwa for the district coordinator position.
However, the regional executive committee during a meeting on Wednesday for vetting and clearing contestants resolved to withhold Amukoto’s candidature due to his involvement in the Itula 2019 presidential election campaign, leaving Nghipundjwa and Uusiku in the race. The meeting sought to scrutinise and verify the candidacy of members contesting for positions of district coordinator, mobiliser and treasurer, for the elective congress billed for tomorrow at Omuthiya. “It is against that background that members of the committee resolved that it is too soon for Cde Amukoto to contest for the position of district coordinator and that he should publicly distance himself from Dr Itula’s agenda before he can be considered for any elective position in the party,” further read the letter copied to ruling party secretary general Sophia Shaningwa. Itula, who stood as an independent candidate while being a card-carrying member of Swapo, received 29.4% of the total vote, while eventual winner President Hage Geingob got 56.3%.
Approached for comment, Amukoto said it was not a secret that he supported Itula during the November presidential elections last year. He, however, said he only heard of his disqualification through the grapevine and further maintained he would take part in the elective congress tomorrow. “I can not deny that I was supporting Itula, but that was when he was a Swapo member of which the constitution has the provision to support and vote for any member just like they did during the 2017 congress where there was Harambee and Team Swapo. Why are they victimising us now while they are still holding their positions?” Amukoto questioned. “Most of the delegates to this conference were Itula supporters, why are they allowing them to participate? I will stand, as a delegate and candidate, unless they tell me that there were charges levelled against me for misconduct or violation. The law that prohibits support for the independent candidate should also tell us whether Itula was not a Swapo member. They should also tell me whether I supported another political party other than Swapo.” Other candidates vying for positions are Susanna Uukongo and Samuel Shikongo for the mobiliser role, as well as Josef Kakungha and Josef Nangolo standing head-to-head for the treasurer post. Both Kakungha and Uukongo are local authority councillors at Omuthiya. Swapo expelled Itula about three months ago, citing Article13 (8) of the party’s constitution. Shaningwa explained all party members, including Itula, were under an obligation to observe and comply with the decisions, resolutions and directives of the majority, and not go against the party and its presidential candidate as this will destroy and weaken the party, and damage its electoral fortunes and that of its presidential candidate. Last month, Swapo held a central committee meeting in which among the issues discussed was amending the constitution to tighten the rules and regulations to ban members of the party to stand as independent candidates in national elections.
Left out... Swapo member Armas Amukoto.