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Swapo to amend constitution to block independent candidates

The Swapo Party is planning to amend its constitution and make it difficult for any member to run as an independent candidate ahead of the November regional councils elections.

Apart from amending the constitution, the ruling party that suffered a massive loss during the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections will hold a meeting to introspect on what happened.

Not only does Swapo want to amend the party’s constitution but approve amendments to the youth league and the women’s council’s constitutions.

Although the party’s information secretary Hilam Nikanor could not say much because she said she was in parliament, several sources confirmed these decisions made by the central committee on Saturday.

According to the sources, the meeting decided that an extraordinary congress to carry out the amendments will be held sometime in July 2020. 

The decision to amend the constitution comes after the party struggled to expel Dr Panduleni Itula who contested as an independent presidential candidate against President Hage Geingob in 2019.

The party in the past relied on a provision in their constitution, that obliges all party members to respect the decisions of the party, to deal with the question of independent candidacy while still claiming to be a member of the party.

Article lV (C) (2) (f) of the party constitution enjoins members of the party “to contribute to the strengthening of the organic unity of the Party and the political consciousness of its rank and file”.

“Therefore, activities of members should be seen within the context of whether or not they are contributing to the strengthening of the organic unity of the Party, or are sowing division,” the current constitution says.

Geingob won the presidential election and received a second term as president. His percentage of votes gained, however, dropped significantly from 87% in 2014 to 56% in 2019.

In 2014, Geingob received 772,528 compared to the 464 703 he got in 2019 when Dr Itula got 242 657 votes.

Swapo only expelled Dr Itula in March 2020 after so much dithering over the issue. In expelling him, the party said Dr Itula had worked with counter-revolutionary forces to destroy and weaken the party.

They also accused Dr Itula of violating Swapo’s constitution when he supported rival parties that were in competition with the ruling party during last year’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

Swapo Party vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told Nampa last year November said they may consider amendments to its constitution to expel party members who wish to contest in national or local elections against the party’s fielded candidates.


Wonder Guchu

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