Game of musical chairs

The ‘Progressive Forces’ marriage is all but over, after PDM and AR abstained from elections and nominations at the 11th hour, leaving them in a silent council majority with the ruling party Swapo.

02 December 2021 | Politics



The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and Affirmative Repositioning’s (AR) 11th-hour announcement yesterday that they will abstain from council election means a majority group of eight councillors from various formations – including the ruling party Swapo – has more voting power than the seven councillors controlling the management committee and mayoral office.

This new balance has left the future of the ‘Progressive Forces’ coalition in tatters, with PDM and AR yesterday seemingly distancing themselves from the pact – and with sources saying they are now leaning towards Swapo to form a majority of eight councillors from a council of 15 seats.

This was first hinted by AR leader and outgoing mayor Job Amupanda when he stated on Twitter, just before elections yesterday afternoon: “We will remain in the benches observing a minority government”.

Landless People’s Movement (LPM) councillor Sade Gawanas, nominated and seconded by Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) councillors Jurgen Hecht and Ndeshihafela Larandja respectively, is the new mayor of Windhoek.

She will be deputised by Joseph Uapingene of the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo).

With Swapo, PDM and Nudo all abstaining from nominations and elections, the new City of Windhoek management committee will comprise Larandja, Otilie Uukule, Hecht, Bernadus Araeb – all from IPC - and Ivan Skrywer of LPM.

Swapo has the most seats by an individual party – five - while AR and PDM have two and one seat respectively, leaving them in a collective majority if they formally decide to work together.

“For the first time you will have a minority leadership. They are seven and we are eight. We will dictate what is to be approved at council,” a City councillor told Namibian Sun late yesterday.

Foes to friends

Last year, LPM abstained from the election process, which it said had become a competition for positions. This time around, LPM and IPC, who had never seen eye-to-eye in the past, were the biggest allies at yesterday’s elective meeting.

The ruling coalition, which comprised of AR, IPC, PDM and Nudo councillors, became shaky in recent weeks and was always headed for a collapse.

Power struggles between AR and IPC, punctuated by IPC leader Panduleni Itula’s alleged flirtations with LPM without the consent of other coalition partners, was the final straw to a quarrelsome alliance whose marriage was only formalised in August this year.

Gawanas, a former air hostess of liquidated national airline Air Namibia, takes over a city beset by challenges such as land, housing and sanitation.

A critic of Amupanda’s style of leadership, yesterday she parted a shot at her predecessor by stating that solutions to the City’s myriad of challenges cannot be found through social media.

Amupanda has often been criticised for using his social media platforms to announce major council resolutions, sometimes ahead of the City’s communications departments.

Paradigm of teamwork

In her acceptance speech, seemingly prepared ahead of the elections, Gawanas urged her fellow councillors not to discount the ideological differences they may have, but instead use that for the benefit of all of the City’s residents.

“Allow me to continue reach out to each one of you in your respectful roles as individuals. You have assurance of my support and understanding. As a collective, it is important to single out that the differences we may share demonstrate our uniqueness.

“We are obliged to convert our uniqueness into an opportunity that culminates into a much-needed paradigm of teamwork,” she said.

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