Swapo sidesteps democracy

Ruling party takes advantage of walk-out

02 August 2021 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES







WINDHOEK

The questionable re-appointment of Paulus Noa as chief of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) amid strong political divisions and public outcry seriously undermines the country’s democracy and shows how desperate Swapo is to protect its waning political support.

These are the sentiments of political analysts Henning Melber and Ndumba Kamwanyah.

For two days, the National Assembly went back and forth over the appointment, with political opposition saying he has been a colossal failure and should not be reconsidered.

Last Thursday, however, Swapo took advantage of a walk-out staged by the opposition and voted Noa into another five years at the helm of the ACC.

Melber said the million-dollar question is why the party is hell-bent on bullying through Noa’s re-appointment.

He added that this is a deliberate act to prevent a proper decision-making process in the best interest of transparency, accountability, and hence democratic virtues and principles.

According to him, Swapo - by such behaviour - only displays its contempt and disrespect of democratic values and provokes suspicions of a not-so-hidden agenda.

No reason to complain

“Why is the party seemingly hell-bent to retain an ACC management which has not been much known for a proactive autonomous role?

“Swapo and the president have no reason to complain or feel misunderstood if people suspect a move towards a cover-up. The way they mishandled the matter seems to support and invite for such concerns and suspicions. The party and president render a disservice to democracy and the country's reputation the way they mishandle their shrinking majority. If they continue on this trajectory, they should not be surprised if they lose more confidence and trust among the citizens. They display features of autocratic rule violating sound principles of parliamentary democracy,” Melber said.

Not surprised

Kamwanyah added that it is unfortunate Swapo opted to rubberstamp the re-appointment instead of advertising the position as was done with that of the Ombudsman.

“It is not something we did not expect. I am not surprised about what transpired in the house. We knew the opposition were not happy at the possibility of the reappointment of Noa and his deputy, but we also knew that Swapo would rubberstamp the re-appointment. It is unfortunate that such a strategic position is decided and confirmed along political lines. It is not good for democracy,” he said.

There are increasing sentiments that the Landless People’s Movement’s (LPM) unprecedented eviction from the National Assembly was a political ploy to allow Swapo free rein.

Melber believes Swapo’s conduct does nothing but stoke these sentiments.

According to him, the ban on the LPM MPs is “a slap in the face of democracy”. “The way the accusations were constructed and handled were dubious at best. While the MPs’ behaviour was out of order, it did not justify their subsequent elimination from the parliamentary debate,” he said.

Kamwanyah echoed his sentiments, though adding that not enough evidence is available to support the view.

“I do not have evidence that they were suspended deliberately, but from the look of things, certainly there is an element of politics. That is why we see it takes long to be resolved. You cannot rule out politically-driven interests when the decision was taken to suspend them,” he said.

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