Rundu in disarray

It is still unclear when new office-bearers for the Rundu town council will be elected and sworn in, as the infighting among the town's five Swapo councillors continues.

28 December 2018 | Politics

The Rundu town council remains in limbo and is yet to elect new office-bearers, as infighting among ruling party councillors continues to throw the municipality into disarray.

Three of the five ruling party councillors are refusing to implement a directive issued by Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa that says the existing office-bearers structure should be retained.

The trio are against the directive because it will result in Verna Sinimbo being re-elected as mayor for the fourth consecutive time.

Sinimbo is accused of not being a good leader and issues like the filthiness of the town have been blamed on her.

This resulted in a boycott of the election and swearing-in of office-bearers that was supposed to be held on 22 November, and ever since then, the town council has had councillors without portfolios.

According to the Swapo rules and procedures for office-bearers, the election and swearing-in of new office-bearers should take place at least 30 days before the end of the old council leadership's term. Swapo Kavango East regional coordinator, Ottilie Shinduvi said she still has to meet with the councillors and decide on a new date for the election and swearing-in ceremony.

Meanwhile, the two non-Swapo councillors who serve on the Rundu town council - Reginald Ndara from the Rundu Concerned Citizens Association (RCCA) and Mathews Wakudumo from the All People's Party (APP) - have expressed their disappointment.

Ndara said recently that the infighting among the Swapo councillors demonstrated that they valued positions above the needs of the people.

“This is an indication that the Swapo local authority councillors in Rundu are not serious about the execution of their responsibilities, as mandated by the residents.

“Instead of engaging themselves in constructive discussions, in order to find workable solutions to the problems experienced by the residents of Rundu, they are busy fighting amongst themselves for positions,” Ndara said in a statement.

Rundu has been making headlines recently due to its water debt, its filthiness and its inability to provide serviced land and houses to its residents, which the councillors are partly blaming on Sinimbo's “dictatorial leadership style”.

“As much as we are all equal councillors of the Rundu town council, most decisions are influenced by the mayor; it's either her way or the highway. We cannot allow that to happen any longer,” the disgruntled Swapo councillors said in a previous interview with Namibian Sun.

Apart from concerns over Sinimbo's leadership, the concerned councillors also want to know which party rules and procedures gave Shaningwa the power to “dish out” directives.

“In the rules and procedure book of the Swapo Party, nowhere does it talk about the secretary-general issuing directives; in fact, it gives us the guidelines for how office-bearers are elected. We are tired of being dictated to; we are on the ground and we know what is best for our town,” the councillors said.

In an earlier interview with Namibian Sun, Shaningwa confirmed she had issued the directive, but refused to entertain any further questions.

“Swapo has given a directive and if there is any communication or diversion from the directive, then I don't think it should be dealt with through newspapers,” she said.

Sinimbo also made headlines last year when she was delegated by the party's Rundu rural district to attend the Swapo elective congress, when in fact she is a member of the Rundu urban district.

She was subsequently elected onto the Swapo central committee.

These and other discrepancies now form part of an unfolding High Court battle in which a group is seeking to have last year's elective congress declared unconstitutional, unlawful or invalid.

The group also want the results of the Swapo top four and central committee elections set aside.

The court battle came nearly a year after an unprecedented bruising campaign and congress, which saw President Hage Geingob and his slate under the Team Harambee banner contesting against a faction that called itself Team Swapo.


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