ONGWEDIVA - Despite numerous attempts by the ruling party to shoot down reports of disunity within its ranks, the Swapo Party Youth League’s re-elected secretary Ephraim Nekongo has admitted the party continues to experience disunity among its “comrades”.
In his message contained in the SPYL Central Committee report to its seventh congress held in Ongwediva over the weekend, Nekongo said, “the slow pace with which the party has been implementing its 2019 election manifesto has somehow resulted in people losing trust in the party.”
Some of the poll promises included fighting corruption, addressing land issues, as well as increasing the number of schools in the country by 8.6% in five years.
During the congress, Nekongo appealed to the youth of Swapo to unite and fight for the betterment of the masses.
In the same vein, he also appealed to the future leadership of the league to “go back to basics, and reflect on the aims, principles and aspirations of our great democratic movement, thereby bringing about unity and social cohesion amongst our larger membership and the Namibian populace.”
Delegates at the congress were also of the opinion that the party’s infighting contributed to it losing the trust and confidence of the nation.
“Disunity has been hampering the party for so long, and it is starting to reflect. It is for that reason that we lost the majority of votes on the local authorities in the coastal towns. If we don’t act as soon as possible, we will lose our people,” said a delegate, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to fear of victimisation.
The infighting was also visible during the congress, as it was mired in a fracas and fights for the contestation of the most prized position.
A deadlock stalled the congress for several hours on Saturday, and security was stepped up to quell tempers. Journalists were asked to leave the facility, and no media briefing was held during the congress.
This did not stop Nekongo from berating the media, especially New Era, yesterday during the closing session. This paper ran social media updates throughout the weekend, informing followers about the developments at the congress.
SPYL secretary for labour Willem Amutenya lost the fight to be included in the contest against Nekongo for the secretary portfolio. He was nominated by the Oshikoto regional ordinary conference, and later confirmed by the Oshikoto extraordinary conference that took place earlier this month.
According to him, he shared his grievances with the national executive committee, central committee and the politburo, but all turned a blind eye to his pleas.
“The leadership of Swapo has completely failed to avoid disunity among the youth wing during this congress,” he charged.
On Thursday, Amutenya, through his lawyer Kadhila Amoomo, sent a letter of demand requesting Nekongo to accept his nomination and announce his candidacy for the position.
If Nekongo persisted to ignore the demand, the letter stated, Amutenya would seek legal recourse.
Asked about the way forward now, Amoomo said in a text message that a decision will soon be made on whether to approach the High Court to seek nullification of the unlawful decision to exclude his client from contesting the position.
“The right to participate in the activities of a political party confers on every political party the duty to act lawfully, and in accordance with its own constitution. This means that Amutenya has the right to expect compliance with the constitution of the youth league by the leadership of the wing,” he added.
In an interview with New Era, Nekongo stated that Amutenya’s nomination was rejected by the CC because his nomination did not conform with the rules and procedures of the party.
“This is not a youth club that does things anyhow they want. Swapo has its own ways of doing things, and we have a constitution that guides us. The CC calls for the congress three months in advance, and the preparation for the congress includes the renewal of the mandate and nominations. The nominations normally start from the national executive committee, and then proceed to the CC before congress.
“We don’t have a process of nominating people from the regional level, or on the floor of congress. The same procedures are also applied by the mother body. Of all the regions that have held their conferences, which one has nominated a candidate? So, why should it be done in the youth league?” he asked rhetorically.
It is on this ground that Nekongo and his deputy Christine Haindaka retained their positions unopposed, and they will now head the league for another five years.
Both leaders were endorsed during the SPYL congress in 2017, where they were uncontested for their positions.
At that time, the late Mandela Kapere and Meryam Nghidipo withdrew from the race, leaving Nekongo as the sole contender, while Haindaka’s two rivals also withdrew at the last minute.
The 2017 congress furthermore saw former SPYL leaders, including Immanuel Nashinge and Sioni Iikela, taking matters to court, and calling for the nullification of the congress as well as calls to investigate claims of irregularities during the congress.
The just-ended congress was held under the theme ‘A United Youth Striving Towards Economic Recovery, Employment-Creation and Sustainable Development’.
Congress timeline decided
Nekongo will lead the SPYL delegation to Swapo’s elective congress to decide the party’s future.
On 24 November, over 700 delegates will assemble in Windhoek – possibly at the revamped double- tower Swapo national headquarters – to decide the party’s new leadership for the next five years.
The congress will run for three days to elect a new vice president (VP) and members of the central committee simultaneously with a single mark on a ballot paper under the party’s electoral system.
The decision was taken at a CC meeting on Saturday.
More so, a politburo meeting is slated for 5 September for the nomination of candidates for the positions of VP, secretary general (SG) and deputy secretary general (DSG).
Five days later, a CC meeting will be convened for further nominations and endorsements of candidates to the top four positions.
The position of party president, currently occupied by President Hage Geingob, will not be contested, it was decided over the weekend.
At the highly-anticipated congress, contenders will be separated from pretenders.
So far, Swapo VP Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila are seen as the frontrunners in the race for the position of party vice president.
Seasoned technocrat-cum-politician Tom Alweendo’s name has also been thrown in the mix.
Alweendo is the energy minister. His defence counterpart, Frans Kapofi, a trusted lieutenant of Geingob, might also bid for the position.
The successful candidate will be Swapo’s presidential candidate at the next general elections.
Known as the engine-room, the SG’s position is also sought-after. The Swapo SG is de facto the party’s CEO, as the occupant presides over the party’s day-to-day affairs.
Incumbent Sophia Shaningwa has shown interest in retaining the post.
She might face competition from Oshikoto coordinator Armas Amukwiyu, who lost out in 2017.
Amukwiyu is back, and is said to be in Geingob’s good books. The two smoked the peace pipe in 2018 at the Swapo extraordinary congress after the watershed 2017 congress, where the two found themselves on diametrically opposed factions, Team Swapo and Team Harambee.
Former Cabinet minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa has availed herself for the position of deputy SG.
Ex-SPYL secretary Elijah Ngurare’s name has also been flaunted around for the position. Ngurare has played his cards close to his chest.
On Saturday, Geingob heaped praise over the party, particularly the manner in which a renewal of the mandate was carried out by the various structures.
“The peaceful nature of the renewal of mandates deserves praise. Yes, there were a few problems here and there. But that is democracy. There are new parties that are copying us,” the Swapo leader said.
He also took a dig at naysayers who pray for Swapo’s downfall.
Geingob is perplexed by the hate meted out against Swapo.
“What is the crime that Swapo has committed? Is it because SWAPO has mobilised the sons and daughters of this country to liberate the country… if Swapo is elected democratically, what is the problem?” Geingob asked rhetorically.
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