Bid to halt congress fails

The latest attempt to stop the ruling party from holding its extraordinary congress this weekend failed in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

28 November 2018 | Politics

Swapo can continue with its extraordinary congress slated for this weekend after the Windhoek High Court yesterday ruled in favour of the ruling party, agreeing not all relevant parties were cited as respondents in the application by the two members who had approached the court to declare last year's elective congress as unconstitutional and unlawful.

Mirjam Shituula and Selma Namboga, also acting on behalf of Swapo leaders Nambata Angula and Seth Boois, sought to have this weekend's congress cancelled, while the group also want the outcome of the top four and central committee elections of 2017 set aside.

Judge Thomas Masuku yesterday postponed the matter to 6 December for a status hearing and will on the same day make a ruling on the issue of costs for the first part of the hearing, which is the urgent application for an interdict.

The applicants will now have an opportunity until 5 December to bring another application citing the other relevant respondents, including the party president and members of the central committee. This is known as a joinder.

The Swapo Party contended that not all necessary respondents were listed in the papers. Only Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa and the ruling party were cited in the application.

Swapo's legal counsel, South African advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, told the court that the case could not proceed if those who enjoyed the benefits of the 2017 Swapo congress were not called to appear before the court.

“Whatever the decision the court gives will affect them,” he said.

The 2017 congress elected head of state Hage Geingob as president, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as vice-president, Shaningwa (secretary-general) and Marco Hausiku as deputy secretary-general.



Bone of contention

The disgruntled Swapo members had argued in their papers that the congress and CC elections of November 2017 were fundamentally flawed and unlawful.

The two applicants, along with Angula and Boois, had earlier in the year petitioned Shaningwa by demanding an independent audit into the outcome of the party's sixth elective congress held last November.

Shaningwa had responded that the central committee would consider the petition. However, the group argued that it was in fact the composition of the current central committee that was being disputed and therefore it could not decide on the matter.





It suggested that the central committee elected in 2012 should deal with the issue. There was also a subsequent letter which still failed to resolve the issue, leading to the urgent court application following Shaningwa's announcement of the dates of the extraordinary congress, which will take place from 30 November to 1 December.

In their founding affidavit, the group claimed material irregularities were unearthed during the 2017 congress, which included at least eight regional governors unlawfully participating, as well as four SPYL delegates being allowed to stand for the central committee when they were no longer eligible to be members of the youth wing as they were over 35, while governors are ex officio members of the regional executive committees.

The applicants claim several irregularities were also unearthed during regional conferences before the congress, resulting in the replacement of some delegates by handpicked ones. They particularly highlighted the participation of Rundu mayor Verna Sinimbo in the congress who was “impermissibly delegated by the Rundu Rural District when, in fact she belongs to the Rundu Urban District”.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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