Swapo courts Walvis councillor Iipinge
The ruling party, in a bid to recapture the industrial coastal town, is trying to return home its prodigal son who took an off-ramp en route to the councillor's throne.
12 June 2020 | Politics
In an apparent bid to recapture the coastal town of Walvis Bay, the ruling party Swapo has set into motion efforts to convince councillor Knowledge Iipinge, its prodigal son who stood and won as an independent candidate, to return to the party.
Iipinge, an activist of the Affirmative Repositioning (AR) movement, trounced Swapo candidate Sirie Topulathana in the Walvis Bay Urban constituency by-election in January to become regional councillor.
Days after his resounding victory, Iipinge told Namibian Sun in an interview that he remains a Swapo member despite standing as an independent.
He is expected to run as an independent candidate again this November, when elections are held.
Swapo also lost in Walvis Bay and parts of Erongo Region in last year's Presidential and National Assembly elections, a situation linked to thousands of fishermen who lost their jobs with nearly no intervention from the party or government.
Walvis Bay then affirmed its protest against the party during the by-election in January.
Since then, the party had sought to bring Iipinge under its fold by sending several of its officials, especially those who are friends with the youthful councillor, to talk him out of remaining independent.
Namibian Sun understands that the party has even suggested that Iipinge would be its official candidate in the November election.
Iipinge running as a Swapo candidate would also serve as a blow to both AR – which has plans to field candidates in November - and former independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula, who shared political campaign platforms with the Walvis Bay Urban councillor in the past.
The councillor is also understood to be of the view that running on a ticket of the party against whom his supporters voted would be betrayal of his constituency.
First to hear of it
Swapo secretary-general Sophia Shaningwa said she is not aware of any efforts by the party to sway Iipinge.
“This is information to me; I have no idea.”
The same sentiments were echoed by Iipinge's childhood neighbour and now governor of the Erongo Region, Neville Itope.
“I am not aware,” Itope said.
Iipinge yesterday neither confirmed or denied that he was approached by Swapo functionaries, but dismissed any possibility of cowing to such advances.
“I have no interest in party politics whatsoever, that's why I contested in the by-election as an independent candidate,” he said.
“My ultimate goal is to build a Walvis Bay Urban constituency and Erongo regional council driven by revolutionary consciousness, with the residents being the architects of their own development and happiness.”
Regarding the November elections, Iipinge said he has no appetite to run on a party ticket.
“Nothing will convince me to run as a representative of any political party come November because I'm very consistent and faithful to my vision for Walvis Bay and the Erongo Region at large,” the former Blue Waters footballer said.