Action ordered against Swapo court challengers

Hot on the heels of the party's 'introspection' meeting, two women are allegedly being purged for challenging the outcome of the 2017 Swapo congress in court.

11 August 2020 | Politics



The Swapo central committee has directed the party leadership in Oshana Region to take disciplinary action against party members Mirjam Shituula and Selma Namboga, who challenged in court the outcome of the party's elective congress of 2017.

Shituula confirmed receiving notification from the party's Oshakati East district executive last weekend that she faced disciplinary action.

“They did not state the charges I am facing but yes, I received the notice,” she told Namibian Sun yesterday. Some Swapo members have described the move as a purge of perceived opponents in the party, saying former Oshakati mayor Katrina Shimbulu recently dragged the party to court and won a case against it, but no action was taken against her. It would in any case be unlawful and autocratic to haul Shimbulu before a hearing for simply exercising her democratic right in court, party insiders argue. The letter, written by Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa and dated 12 June 2020, says the party central committee meeting held on June 6 resolved that the party take disciplinary action against the two women.

Shaningwa directed the Swapo regional coordinator for Oshana, Samuel Nelongo, to spearhead the process of taking action against Shituula and Namboga.

The two had asked the High Court to declare the party's 2017 congress unlawful and unconstitutional and the election of its leadership at that congress as unconstitutional or invalid.

Slate politics

Shituula and Namboga are believed to have been in the Team Swapo campaign that lost at the congress.

President Hage Geingob, who was copied in Shaningwa's letter directing disciplinary hearing against the pair, was elected as Swapo president at the 2017 congress.

His supporters made up the overwhelming majority of the current Swapo central committee.

Shituula, a teacher, yesterday maintained her conviction that the congress was manipulated and that money changed hands to buy votes.

She accused President Hage Geingob of faking unity while in fact ruling by fear and vengeance.

“When Team Swapo accepted defeat in front of everyone, Geingob said everyone should do the same and move on. Days later, he fired Jerry Ekandjo and Pendukeni Ithana as ministers and Petrina Haingura as deputy minister. It's Sodom and Gomorrah stuff,” she said.

“If we felt aggrieved by the way the congress was conducted, the country's laws allow us to seek recourse in court, which is what we did. What exactly are we being disciplined for? Swapo must promote justice for all its members. I don't work with sneaky characters.”

'Double standards'

Sioni Iikela, who also supported the losing Team Swapo campaign, said he was disheartened by the treatment being meted out against Shituula and Nambago.

“It shows the so-called introspection meeting that the party held recently to, among others, promote intra-party unity, was a fallacy,” he said.

He cited the Shimbulu case as one in which the party was dragged to court, and lost, but did not take action against the former Oshakati mayor.

Shimbulu challenged Swapo for removing her from the Oshakati town council after she had resigned to pursue her ambitions to join the National Assembly in last year's general elections.

After she failed to make it to parliament, she made a U-turn and rejoined the council. Swapo removed her from the council but she challenged the decision in the High Court and won reinstatement.

“Is it because Katrina is from the Harambee camp or why is she treated differently? We can't preach unity while treating party members differently. No one is more Swapo than the other, whether you campaigned for Harambee or Team Swapo,” said Iikela.

Swapo refused to comment on the matter yesterday, with Shaningwa saying: “I have a problem with your question; you are asking me to discuss party issues with the media.”

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