Election boycott at Oshakati over Shimbulu U-turn

17 December 2019 | Politics

Oshakati town councillors Onesmus Shilunga and Gabriel Kamwanka yesterday boycotted the council's election of political office-bearers in protest against Swapo's Oshakati East district executive decision to bring Katrina Shimbulu back after she had resigned in October as part of compliance with Article 47 of the constitution.

Shimbulu and other politicians affected by the enforcement of Article 47 by the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) had to resign upon acceptance of nomination to the National Assembly ahead of last month's general elections.

At the Oshakati town council, Shimbulu and CEO Werner Iita tendered their resignations, but due to Swapo's lukewarm performance in the elections – where the party failed to retain its two-thirds majority – the two did not make it to parliament.

Now Shimbulu is accused of wanting to have her cake and eat it too by returning to council although her resignation had been accepted in October.

According to acting council CEO Kornelius Kapolo, Shimbulu tendered her resignation on 17 October and he (Kapolo) followed procedure by informing the Swapo regional office that there was a vacancy.

“When I informed the Swapo office they said they would only attend to it after election.

“They couldn't get back to me after election until the date we were supposed to have the election, suggesting that we postpone. We were ready to go ahead with only six councillors,” Kapolo told Namibian Sun.

“Last week the [Swapo] district executive met and gave us names for the councillors, including Shimbulu's name.”

Yesterday Shilunga told Namibian Sun that he and Kamwanka decided to boycott the election of office-bearers because they were not happy with the district executive's decision to return Shimbulu as councillor in contravention of the constitution.

“After Shimbulu resigned, on 3 November as councillors we met and proposed changes to the council and submitted our proposal to the district executive,” he said.

“We wanted changes due to various reasons. We were later told that the district executive could not accept our proposal, saying that we must maintain the status quo because they had not received Shimbulu's resignation.

“We decided not to support the district decision. Today [yesterday] we just saw Shimbulu at the meeting ready to be sworn in and that was why we decided not to be part of this.”

Shilunga said the district executive's decision was a “betrayal” and they would not accept it. He said until the Shimbulu conundrum was resolved, they would not be part of the council.

Efforts to get comment from Swapo regional coordinator Samuel Nelongo failed.

The resignations necessitated by Article 47 have led to four by-elections being scheduled for January 15 next year, after several councillors resigned in compliance with the requirement.

The official opposition party, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), is trying to circumvent this law by ditching its gazetted list of MPs in favour of the old list.

The ECN recently informed Namibian Sun that it had contacted the attorney-general for guidance on how to best handle the U-turns by politicians who had resigned.


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