A house divided

Espionage allegations have engulfed the ruling party as the Team Swapo and Team Harambee factions renew their battle over the election of local authority office-bearers across the country, while divisions among cabinet members are also out in the open.

12 December 2019 | Politics

Swapo has entered the final weeks of 2019 in disarray, as factional battles characterise the election of mayors and other political office-bearers in local authorities across the country.

This follows the party's lacklustre performance in both the National Assembly and presidential elections, which led to massive opposition gains and a neck-and-neck race between Hage Geingob and independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula, who has still not accepted the election results.

Adding fuel to the fire is the Fishrot bribery scandal, which has seen cabinet ministers publicly airing strong views on the alleged involvement of their former colleagues Bernhardt Esau and Sacky Shanghala, who together with four others are facing charges relating to facilitating access to Namibia's fishing quotas in exchange for over N$150 million in kickbacks from Icelandic seafood company Samherji.

Yesterday there was another twist when economic planning minister Obeth Kandjoze took to Twitter to lambast his cabinet colleagues who have been outspoken about the Fishrot mess and its impacts on Namibia's international standing.

“Cabinet collective responsibility, or collective ministerial responsibility, is a constitutional convention in parliamentary systems that members of the cabinet must publicly support all governmental decisions made in cabinet, even if they privately disagree,” he tweeted.

This followed media revelations that Geingob went on the offensive during last Friday's final cabinet meeting of the year by telling cabinet ministers who publicly condemned the Fishrot scandal to resign if they don't trust how the government is dealing with the matter.

Finance minister Calle Schlettwein was the first to condemn those implicated in the Fishrot scandal, saying the Al Jazeera video shows a typical case of resource looting from a developing country, Namibia, by a multinational company with the involvement of few highly placed and influential Namibians.

“It is criminal. All must be prosecuted. The process has started, must be completed,” he tweeted.

He was followed by Tom Alweendo, the minister of mines, who said the plundering of the country's fish resource was reprehensible and needed to be condemned by all.

“What makes it even more deplorable is the fact that it was perpetrated by those entrusted with public office leadership,” Alweendo said.

Namibian Sun understands that Alweendo was blasted not only his views but also for allegedly always “presenting himself as smarter than the president”, according to those in the know. Minister Leon Jooste of public enterprises followed suit soon after and said he was personally devastated when considering the social, financial and reputational consequences of these actions. A government official said: “As things stand, if you criticise Fishrot you're perceived as directly criticising cabinet.”

“Those who raise this issue are now lone wolves in cabinet.”

However, political commentator Ndumba Kamwanyah said it is peculiar that the cabinet would take its collective responsibility on all other certain matters but not corruption, seriously. According to him, if the cabinet prides itself on having collective responsibility on any matter, corruption must be the first priority.

According to him, Kandjoze and Geingob's criticism against those speaking up raises serious questions about the cabinet's ultimate stance on corruption.

“In the absence of cabinet collective responsibility on the matter of corruption I see it as good that people speak out. People in high authority positions must condemn corruption, but that is the problem we have, that when people cry out about corruption they do not see any senior officials condemning corruption,” he said. Another political commentator, Frederico Links, said, judging from public statements made by various officials, it was clear that there was some division in Geingob's cabinet.

Links, however, pointed out that one must also interrogate to what extent cabinet ministers are allowed to express their views on certain issues.

“You have to ask what it means if this is how fairly innocent condemnation are treated… they have not mentioned names. They did not actually criticise government. And this was not their official capacity but their private capacity on their private Twitter accounts. So the question is, to what extent are they allowed to express themselves as members of society? Or is it a situation that everybody should just say things that conform to the president's predominate narrative at the table,” Links said.

Faction fights rage on

After the Swapo regional executive committee in Khomas endorsed Fransina Kahungu and Ian Subasubani as Windhoek's new mayor and deputy mayor respectively, the party's top leadership intervened to seemingly undo the decision.

The two, together with other party councillors, were nominated over the weekend, but a letter by Peter Katjavivi, chairperson of Swapo leaders assigned to Khomas Region, asked that elections scheduled this week to formally endorse the nomination of Kahungu, Subasubani and others be halted. Katjavivi, in a letter written on Monday this week, said the Swapo Politburo had directed that the process be halted. Kahungu replaces Muesee Kazapua, seen as a blue-eyed boy of Team Harambee, while the incoming mayor and deputy mayor are perceived to be in the opposing camp, called Team Swapo. The two factions emerged in 2017 ahead of the party's elective congress but never disintegrated since then. On Tuesday, a Swapo district executive meeting demoted two councillors of the Ongwediva town council allegedly on suspicion that they are anti-Geingob.

The party shifted councillor Malakia Katumbo Petrus from the management committee to ordinary member, while councillor Naemi Amuthenu was allowed to continue serving as chairperson of management committee, but under strict monitoring.

Swapo functionaries at the town claim that Petrus does not hide the fact that he is not a fan of Geingob, while Amuthenu is suspected of the same although she is seen to be covert about where her loyalty lies.

When contacted Namibian Sun, Amuthenu said that she was disappointed by remarks that she was anti-Geingob after all she had done during the campaign.

“What is that I have done to be labelled anti-Geingob? I have played many roles during the campaigning and chairing committee and now I am being labelled anti-Geingob. Where were they if they are the pro-Geingob when we were preparing all that?” No comment could be obtained from Petrus as his cellphone number went unanswered.

When the district executive met on Tuesday, he was shifted from the management committee to ordinary member and he was replaced with councillor Maria Kavalela.

[email protected]

Similar News


Familiar faces surface at IPC

19 hours ago | Politics

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKFamiliar faces have surfaced in the newly launched Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), which held its founding national convention in Windhoek over the weekend.The...

AR gets the nod in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund

3 days ago - 31 July 2020 | Politics

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe Affirmative Repositioning movement's application to participate in the upcoming local and regional authority elections at Walvis Bay and Swakopmund has been approved by...

Geingob bemoans tribalism in Swapo

5 days ago - 29 July 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKPresident Hage Geingob has challenged Swapo members to deal with the recurrent ghosts of tribalism and factionalism, which undermine party's cohesion and its ability...

Master KG’s 'Jerusalema' tops 50m views on YouTube

1 week ago - 27 July 2020 | Politics

IOL ENTERTAINMENT Master KG’s global hit Jerusalema has reached another milestone, gaining over 50 million views on YouTube.Jerusalema, which was one of the chart-topping hits...

'Swapo introspection a joke'

1 week ago - 27 July 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEK Former prime minister Nahas Angula has described the ruling party's post-mortem gathering on last year's general election over the weekend as...

PDM woes impact parliament poster

1 week ago - 27 July 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEK The National Assembly has delayed the printing of the official poster of members of parliament following a High...

We don't play politics – ECN

1 week ago - 21 July 2020 | Politics

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKThe Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) yesterday scoffed at suggestions by the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement that its applications ahead of this year's elections...

Geingob slams lethargic Swapo MPs

2 weeks ago - 17 July 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKPresident Hage Geingob yesterday made no secret of his discontent that members of his Swapo Party are trailing in the dust of their opposition...

'PDM court woes a diversion'

2 weeks ago - 17 July 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKPopular Democratic Movement (PDM) chief whip, Vipuakuje Muharukua, has claimed that this week's court hearing against the party was a diversion tactic to...

PDM six face unceremonious parliament exit

2 weeks ago - 14 July 2020 | Politics

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKIn a landmark ruling yesterday, Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) members Charmaine Tjirare and Hidipo Hamata won their High Court case in which they challenged...

Latest News

Two more CPCs for NSX

19 hours ago | Business

Two capital pool companies (CPC) listed on the Development Board (DevX) of the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) on Friday: Mcube Investments One Ltd and Omajowa...

Another tough year for Nictus

19 hours ago | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – Locally-listed Nictus Holdings’ results for the 12 months ended 31 March 2020 reflect the impact of the ongoing recession in Namibia with...

Familiar faces surface at IPC

19 hours ago | Politics

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKFamiliar faces have surfaced in the newly launched Independent Patriots for Change (IPC), which held its founding national convention in Windhoek over the weekend.The...

Seven Covid-19 cases in Windhoek...

19 hours ago | Health

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEKWith nearly 100 Covid-19 cases confirmed in Windhoek, there is growing fear about how informal settlements – which so far have seven confirmed cases...

Journalist lands in trouble for...

19 hours ago | Government

OGONE TLHAGEWINDHOEKNamibia Press Agency (Nampa) journalist Edward Mumbuu has found himself in hot water with his employer after he asked President Hage Geingob a Fishrot-related...

De Beers likely to cut...

19 hours ago | Business

LONDON/GABORONE - Diamond mining giant De Beers is likely to have to cut jobs, its chief executive said on Thursday, as it outlined plans for...

Overview of VAT in Namibia

19 hours ago | Business

The Value-added Tax Act in Namibia imposes a liability to pay VAT on (a) every taxable supply of goods and services and (b) every import...

Journalism increasingly under threat in...

19 hours ago | Opinion

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This quote, often attributed to French philosopher...

Kunene commits on service delivery...

19 hours ago | Economics

The most fundamental reason for the existence of any government is to ensure the provision of housing and land to its people.This was said by...

Load More