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

 

N$450m party funding unaudited

2 days ago - 22 January 2020 | Politics

OGONE TLHAGE Auditor-General Junias Kandjeke says there is no law authorising him to...

Louw suspended for Cash Converters shenanigans

1 week ago - 17 January 2020 | Politics

The Electoral Commission of Namibia has suspended its technical director, Milton Shaanika Louw, who allegedly pawned five laptops belonging to the Commission. “I can...

EVMs challenged amid by-election joy

1 week ago - 17 January 2020 | Politics

The opposition, which now comprises of the new independent candidacy phenomenon, yesterday celebrated by-election victories against Swapo at Walvis Bay and Keetmanshoop on the eve...

By-elections dampened

1 week ago - 16 January 2020 | Politics

Voting was slow in by-elections that took place in the Khomasdal, Gobabis Urban, Keetmanshoop Urban and Walvis Bay Urban constituencies yesterday, with the opening of...

Scramble for urban vote

1 week ago - 14 January 2020 | Politics

This year's regional and local authority elections could produce another watershed moment in politics, with analysts predicting tight contests, especially in urban areas.The tipping point,...

By-election candidates promise change

1 week ago - 14 January 2020 | Politics

Candidates standing for key constituency by-elections that will take place tomorrow have promised voters change, saying they will do whatever they can to improve their...

Too broke to challenge ­election results

1 week ago - 14 January 2020 | Politics

The Landless People's Movement (LPM) will not be able to make good on its promise to challenge the outcome of last year's general election.The party...

Swapo Walvis candidate 'snubbed'

1 week ago - 13 January 2020 | Politics

Despite Swapo support dwindling in Walvis Bay and the Erongo Region in general, none of the party's top four leaders have graced any of the...

SPYL hopes for more youth inclusion

1 week ago - 13 January 2020 | Politics

The recent appointment of Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) secretary Ephraim Nekongo as a member of parliament by President Hage Geingob has brought renewed hope...

Swapo a hala okukwata ko oshikandjo shaKhomasdal

2 weeks ago - 08 January 2020 | Politics

OGONE TLHAGEOmukwatakanithi gwongundu tayi pangele moshitopolwa shaKhomas, Elliot Mbako okwa pula ehwahwameko lya kwata miiti moshikandjohogololo shaKhomasdal omolwa omahogololo guukansela ngoka taga ningwa momasiku...

Latest News

Fishrot bail strategy revealed

4 hours ago | Justice

The six men accused of accepting bribes worth N$150 million in the so-called Fishrot scandal have so far avoided applying for bail to protect details...

N$60m in SA worker funds...

4 hours ago | Banking

A whopping N$60 million belonging to the South African Municipal Workers Union National Provident Fund was among the so-called investments that have gone missing as...

The struggle kids conundrum

4 hours ago | Opinion

The issue of struggle kids being prioritised for cleaner and labourer jobs has again reared its ugly head in the form of ongoing protests at...

Jooste handed battle-axe

4 hours ago | Government

The public enterprises minister has officially been handed the power to direct special investigations into the activities of state-owned enterprises if it is suspected that...

Harambee transparency target missed

4 hours ago | Crime

The latest corruption perception rankings by an international graft watchdog show that Namibia has missed the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) target of being the most...

Fishrot Six challenge search warrants

4 hours ago | Justice

The so-called Fishrot Six have filed an urgent High Court application in a frantic attempt to overturn two sets of search warrants on their immovable...

Investing in the people

4 hours ago | Health

Mariselle Stofberg“A new decade signals a time for reflection and focus on new opportunities that lie untapped before us. A decade passed teaches of victories,...

Blazing hot videos

4 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

MICHAEL KAYUNDE With three music videos under her belt just 24 days into...

Has music lost its soul?

4 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

It seems many artists have moved away from making music with a message to just endorsing a fake lavish lifestyle. Today, music needs videos for...

Load More