Down with bullying tactics!

08 February 2019 | Columns

It is interesting that those in the Swapo top leadership are the first to concede that factionalism harms the ruling party.

Swapo is clearly a divided house and this factionalism is evident, given the goings-on and vicious standoffs within the former liberation movement at the moment. A case in point is the clear defiance by Rundu councillors not to elect Verna Sinimbo and Ralph Ihemba as mayor and deputy mayor, respectively, despite an order to do so by the ruling party. After months of dillydallying, the councillors finally resolved to end the impasse at the town council yesterday when it convened a session to elect its new office-bearers. The instruction from Swapo was that Sinimbo must be retained as mayor and Ihemba as deputy mayor. However, there was no secondment for Sinimbo after she had initially been nominated to serve for another term. This forced another round of elections and this time around Isak Kandingu and Toini Hausiku prevailed as mayor and deputy mayor, respectively. As local lawyer Silas-Kishi Shakumu argued in Namibian Sun this week, the onus of electing office-bearers should lie with the respective councillors and political parties shouldn't even think of imposing their preferred candidates. We agree that there is no legal basis for any political leadership to impose on councillors whom should occupy which position. The culture of imposing candidates on elected councillors not only undermines what is supposed to be a democratic process, but also compromises the quality of leadership. The culture of Swapo instructing regional leaders on who should be elected as mayor, deputy mayor, management committee chairperson, or simply an ordinary councillor, does not augur well for intra-party democracy and encourages divisions. Having been shown the middle finger, it is almost certain that the head honchos in Swapo will again move to deploy dirty tactics such as recalling the councillors for not toeing the party line. The party has shown over the years that it uses bullying tactics work to suppress critical voices, which is very unfortunate.

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