'We control national budget' - Swapo

Swapo says independent councillors and the opposition occupying seats of governance cannot guarantee success as long as the ruling party controls the money.

10 February 2020 | Politics

Swapo on Friday startlingly claimed it remains in control of the national budget despite its poor showing in the last general election, and thus independent candidates and the opposition cannot dictate development in constituencies they occupy.

This was in an attempt to pour cold water over any suggestions that the former liberation movement has become a toothless bulldog after its recent electoral losses.

The party lost its two-thirds majority in the November general election, translating into sacrificing 14 seats in the National Assembly compared to the 2014 elections.

President Hage Geingob lost 30% of the 87% vote he got five years ago.

In January, Swapo lost the Walvis Bay Urban and Keetmanshoop Urban constituencies to independent candidate Knowledge Iipinge and the Landless People's Movement (LPM) respectively.

Swapo however waxed lyrical on Friday, boasting of the power and control it still has at its disposal despite the hard fall from grace.

Spokesperson Hilma Nicanor said independent candidates and the opposition serving as councillors would not bring about change because it is still Swapo who must dictate spending.

Nicanor, who resigned as councillor for Keetmanshoop Urban to pave the way for LPM's victory in the constituency, seems to now suggest that non-Swapo councillors would be deliberately frustrated by denying them funds to advance development.

“The national budget will still be controlled by Swapo,” she said, to thunders of ululations by fellow party members at a press conference on Friday.

During the media briefing, the Swapo secretary for mobilisation and information urged Namibians to vote for Swapo in the regional and local authority elections in November.

“The entire cabinet will still be that of Swapo and the National Assembly will be dominated by Swapo. In addition and contrary to some analyst that the loss of the two-thirds majority in parliament by one seat is a big failure, Swapo indeed has a massive mandate of 66%, which translates into 63 seats, while President Hage Geingob got 56% of the total presidential election vote,” she reminded adversaries.

Political analysts Ndumba Kamwanyah described Nicanor's hint at withholding budget as 'dangerous'.

“It's a dangerous direction to head into, bringing the Swapo party closer to where ZANU-PF under Robert Mugabe was. If you are crying about politicising the national flag, then the same should apply to the national budget,” he said.

“There is separation between the State and party politics. The national budget operates within the State principles, not a political party. Controlling the national budget for partisan politics is tantamount to weaponising the State against democracy,” he said. Social commentator Rakkel Andreas said it is unfortunate that the misleading tone of communication is that Swapo is the government.

She added that perhaps Nicanor meant to say since the national budget is approved in the National Assembly where Swapo holds a majority, the party has more influence over the final budget.

“In retrospect, I find such a stance counter nation-building because the government and national budget is for all people. In fact, the budget is tax payer money, so what impression is a ruling party giving when it makes such statements against Namibians who contested for change?” she said.

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