Swapo slams AR propoganda over manifesto debacle

10 October 2019 | Politics

Swapo executive director Austin Samupwa has denied that the ruling party's 2019 election manifesto contains recommendations on bail, fines and the finalisation of cases, which would effectively be stirring a hornets' nest of political interference in the affairs of the country's judiciary.

“It is AR [Affirmative Repositioning] propaganda,” was Samupwa's defence. Not so, hit back AR leader Job Amupanda.

“He [Samupwa] must show you a copy [of the manifesto] that contradicts what journalists have and wrote. Austin is a lightweight and not worthy of my response and time,” Amupanda said.

The controversy arose after Amupanda purportedly quoted the contents of the manifesto as stating: “The Swapo-led government, if elected, will in the next five years focus on finalising 445 pending cases and enforce stiffer bail conditions, fines and sentences for corrupt practices.”

Under the heading “Rule of Law and Social Justice”, the Swapo manifesto states that the party will “ensure stiffer bail conditions, fines, and sentences for corrupt practices,” Amupanda posted on social media.

Apparently it also states that the party is committed to ensuring “the finalisation of 445 pending cases”.

Samupwa did not respond to this when confronted with a copied version of the manifesto, since the manifesto has not yet been released to the media.

The director of the Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), Toni Hancox, said the Swapo commitments would “definitely constitute interference with the judiciary, generally, and in terms of the entrenched rights of the accused under Article 7 of the [Namibian] constitution – Protection of Liberty – and Article 12”.

Article 7 stipulates that “no persons shall be deprived of personal liberty except according to procedures established by law”.

Article 12 states that everyone is entitled to a fair trial and public hearing by an independent, impartial and competent court or tribunal established by law.

Hancox proposed that the Swapo Party also have a look at Article 78(2) and (3) of the constitution.

Article 78 deals with the judiciary and stipulates that judicial power is vested in the courts of Namibia.

Hancox said Swapo had “obviously not taken into account” this provision in the Namibian constitution “unless they intend to amend it as has been done before”, referring to the amendment of the Legal Practitioners Act of 1995, which was criticised as “tailor-amended” to make way for the appointment of Martha Imalwa who was not a practising lawyer at the time.

“The judiciary must carry out its mandate freely and without favour,” Hancox stressed.

Another lawyer attached to the LAC observed that the ruling Swapo Party should be reminded that there is a difference between the ruling party and the judiciary. Yet another lawyer noted that the statements were probably just poorly formulated, and maybe Swapo meant it would enact laws that would allow for such changes.

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