UPM’s divorce dispute dismissed

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UPM’s divorce dispute dismissed

A case in which the United People’s Movement took the Popular Democratic Movement to court over its decision to withdraw its members from the National Assembly, was struck from the roll for lack of urgency.

Two UPM politicians, party leader Jan van Wyk and Frans Bertolini, were ejected from Parliament for backing presidential hopeful Ally Angula.

On Tuesday, Judge Boas Usiku said UPM failed to explain how the immediate withdrawal of Van Wyk and Bertolini from the National Assembly by PDM rendered the matter urgent.

In their application, UPM argued the Presidential and National Assembly elections will be held in November, and should the matter follow the court’s normal procedure, it might render the orders that they seek moot because by the time the matter is finalised and the judgement is granted, new National Assembly members may have been sworn in.

In addition, the party will lose out on the income derived from the National Assembly.

“In my opinion, the present application is no different from that of other individuals who are dismissed from employment, and are pursuing their cases in the normal course. The applicants in the present matter are in no different position, and should not be allowed to jump the queue,” said Usiku.

He further said financial hardship or loss of income does not, on its own, constitute grounds for urgent relief.

Speaking to New Era on Tuesday, Van Wyk was dismayed by the fact that they could no longer represent their nearly 17000 voters in the House.

“However, it is not the end of the road for UPM. We will bounce back, as this is just a test for the UPM leadership,” the seasoned politician said.

UPM will continue to support Angula, who will be contesting the upcoming presidential elections.

“Loyalty and hard work are all I ask now from the UPM members and supporters,” van Wyk urged.

UPM wanted the court to invalidate and set aside PDM’s decision to withdraw Van Wyk and Bertolini from the National Assembly. The party also wanted the court to declare that the swearing-in of PDM members Loide Iipinge and Katrina Benz is invalid, and should be set aside. 

Alternatively, should the court conclude that the withdrawal of its members from the legislative organ was lawful, then it must order that the vacant seats be filled by two members of the “UPM down the joint PDM party list”, as stated in their coalition agreement.

Furthermore, the court must declare their 28 August 2019 coalition/agreement valid, and of full force and effect.

The PDM-UPM coalition agreement came into force on 28 August 2019, and is expected to expire in 2025.

However, PDM’s secretary general Manuel Ngaringombe said their agreement was that UPM must have an alliance and a duty of good faith with PDM.

He said UPM cannot be in bed with two opposite political parties at the same time, or have its bread buttered on both sides.

He added that UPM cannot continue to occupy seats in the National Assembly on a PDM ticket when they have clearly and publicly demonstrated that their allegiance lies elsewhere.