Tobie Aupindi and Katrina Hanse-Himarwa’s failure to make it into the Swapo party politburo could be a cleansing exercise by delegates to rid the party’s structure of elements whose integrity has been put into question, analysts have reasoned.
Himarwa is a convict who was found guilty of corruption leading to her losing her ministerial position. Her backing for tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta for the vice-presidency of the party has largely been seen as an attempt to find her way back into the corridors of power.
Aupindi was also convicted of corruption although he successfully appealed, yet again the political ramifications of his brushing with the law have been felt from the day he was brought into parliament.
Aupindi had backed the vice-presidential ambitions of current prime minister Saarah Kuugongelwa-Amadhila who suffered defeat at the hands of the relatively corruption and scandal-free Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah.
According to political analyst Graham Hopwood, the purging of characters with a questionable past seems to have been the theme as Armas Amukwiyu fell by the way-side after his bid to grab the secretary-general’s position from Sophia Shaningwa came to naught.
Although Aupindi couldnot make it to the politburo, he remains in the party’s central committee (CC).
His backing of Kuugongelwa-Amadhila was understood to be yet another of his attempts to climb the political ladder and land a much more powerful position in the event she made it to the presidency of the country.
“The list was like a referendum on their character and the record of some of these people although they are in the CC. I think the congress and the CC results and politburo election votes were for integrity and against corruption,”Hopwood pointed out.
“We have seen the candidates with a questionable record not making it far. I am thinking of Armas and I think that he has continued to be the theme. It seems to be a message that some of the delegates need a cleaner image of the party in the future. I think, overall, these elections have shown that the people in the party are concerned about corruption, they are even considering the possibility of a step-aside rule,” he said.
The step-aside rule has been popularised recently by the African National Congress (ANC) and it implies that anyone suspected to be guilty of corruption must relinquish his/her position until they prove their innocence.
Political analyst Ndumba Kamwanya is howevernot fully convinced that the failure of Aupindi and Himarwa is an indictment of their past deeds and the negative perceptions surrounding their integrity.
He has submitted that the two might have fallen by the sword of Ndaitwah loyalists.
“Yes and no. This is in the sense that when you look at the CC, the second list which is the official list, it is dominated by Ndaitwah’s people or loyalists. The politburo comes from that list, the official list. If you look at the reflection of the politburo, you will see largely the Ndaitwah people,”Kamwanya said.
“From what we know and have observed during the campaign, both Katrina and Tobie were not in the camp of Ndaitwah. Automatically, one can conclude that the fact that they did not make it has to do with that. In terms of their past, we know that they have been in court and found guilty and Tobie appealed and won the appeal, so in terms of that I do not think that it was on the mind of Swapo members,” he said.
THE TAYELE FACTOR
The dramatic after-echoes of the Swapo congress this week played out again when the party’s chief whip, Evelyn !Nawases-Tayele, roped in lawyers and challenged a decision to bar her from a re-run for the deputy secretary general’s position.
LawyerRichard Metcalfe has written to Shaningwa saying his “client is naturally disgruntled by the unjust and discriminatory treatment she endured, which treatment we now contest”.
Hopwood said:”She shouldnot have been excluded because she is a woman. Generally, there is embarrassment in the party around the incompetence around how the congress and CC was handled.”
For Kamwanyah, Nawases’ decision to resort to lawyers to better handle her grievance, is an indication that all was not well in the party.
“We have seen Jerry trying to take the party to court, and when it came to the election there were some controversies around the first list and the two lists and now you have the issue of Nawases. What is happening is that all is not well. The congress seems to have divided the party. The division is not between Team Swapo and Team Harambee but it is all over.”
“Even Team Harambee people are against each other and those of Team Swapo. The issue of Nawases is what we call the unintended consequences. There is the intended objective and the unintended objective,”Kamwanyah pointed out.
“By this, I refer to the 50/50 gender principle which was introduced by the party because they were concerned that women were being excluded especially in leadership positions. The party thought it better to come up with the principle to make sure women have access and are included in leadership.”
“But I think the party did not anticipate various scenarios that could happen due to that principle. One of those is the Nawases case where you had Ndaitwah winning, as well as Shaningwa. But the party was caught offside, they did not have the plan to preempt any scenario that could complicate that 50/50 principle,” he added.
“They just interpreted that Nawases must fall out and the rerun must be between the two gentlemen because a gentleman must be there. This does not seem right, that she fell out. Where is the will of the people? She was voted by delegates,” said the analyst.