Shanghala, Esau lose Swapo positions

The party is set to publicly announce the removal of the two former ministers from its top echelons following a high-level party meeting last week.

07 April 2021 | Politics



The ruling party’s top leadership has resolved to remove its incarcerated leaders Bernhardt Esau and Sacky Shanghala from their central committee and politburo positions.

Swapo executive director Austin Samupwa yesterday refused to confirm this when he appeared on Namibian Sun’s talk show The Evening Review, but confirmed that an announcement in this regard will be made soon.

Shanghala and Esau are currently trial-awaiting prisoners facing corruption, money laundering and fraud charges related to the Fishrot scandal.

Namibian Sun can confirm that top party leaders, including President Hage Geingob, met last week in Windhoek to seal the fate of the two disgraced former ministers who resigned after the multimillion-dollar bribery scandal came to light.

Shanghala is a central committee member, while Esau is both in that structure as well as the politburo of the party.

Since their arrests in November 2019, and despite recalling them from Parliament following the emergence of the scandal, Geingob and his leadership have vehemently defended their decision to keep the duo in their respective positions, saying it cannot take action unless they had been proven guilty by the courts.

The move to evict them from Parliament before elections was seen as a ploy to hoodwink voters into believing that the party did not condone their alleged acts, but the fact that it has not acted internally - leaving Shanghala and Esau as part of the decision-makers - gives a different impression.

Thrown under the bus

Shanghala and Esau played a key role at Swapo’s 2017 congress to help Geingob and his Team Harambee slate emerge victorious at that heated convention, which saw the party being split into two rival camps.

Now, just weeks before the two appear in court on 22 April for the start of their trial, which has drawn global attention, Swapo decided to pull the plug on the two men’s positions in the echelons of the party.

At a meeting last week, the party’s politburo allegedly decided that the two should be recalled, after leaders satisfied themselves with laws guiding their decision.

It is understood that Shanghala’s leaked document in which he warns the party to modernise its “outdated political programme or face extinction” accelerated the decision to remove him and Esau from the said positions.

“What broke the camel’s back was that long thing that Shanghala wrote,” a Swapo insider said.

“The letter didn’t sit well with the leadership, which felt thrown under the bus. So, they are paying the jailbirds in their own coin by also throwing them under the bus…”

Through his lawyers, Shanghala in December 2020 submitted an application to the Attorney General’s (AG) office seeking legal help. He wanted government to provide legal representation or pay his legal fees, saying he acted in his official capacity when he did what he was charged for.

The AG’s office, which has been reviewing the application for months now, is yet to decide on the matter.

Efforts to get comment from party secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa and spokesperson Hilma Nikanor on Swapo’s pending announcement proved futile.

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