Namibia: Divisions Rock Ruling Party

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The Swapo Party Youth League 6th congress at Katima Mulilo over the weekend has positioned a faction supporting President Hage Geingob in an unassailable position.

The complete sidelining of a faction opposing Geingob's ambition to secure the ruling party presidency has strengthened his chances of becoming president at the party's congress in November.

Following the outmaneuvering of the anti-Geingob faction, National Youth Council chairperson Mandela Kapere said that they have defeated "these guys".

Kapere was one of those nominated to stand for the SPYL secretary position, but withdrew at the last minute leaving Ephraim Nekongo to be elected uncontested.

In an interview with The Namibian yesterday, a jovial Kapere, who turned 35 this year, said he was very comfortable withdrawing to allow Nekongo to be elected, claiming that it had been a strategy decided before congress.

"You see we had a strategy before this thing. We knew all along what we were doing, and our strategy worked at the congress," he said.

Kapere also said his faction supported Nekongo because he was one of the good leaders "we have been grooming over the years and has been with us for a long time".

"We are all supporting Ephraim 100%. In our view, he is the right man to a lead the new team and take SPYL to greater heights for the next five years," he said.

Kapere also said that "only the ones that are still having sour grapes will be telling a different story" of the congress outcomes.

Kapere added that his faction also had a plan for the Swapo congress of November, without going into detail.

"In politics you need to have a plan, that's why we also have a plan for the mother body congress and we are confident that, that strategy will also play out well. Myself, Nekundi, Neville, Paula Kooper, Ephraim and the rest of the members from the national executive committee, are all part of our plan," said Kapere.

SPYL also elected Christine Haindaka as deputy secretary. The 30-member SPYL central committee was also elected yesterday.

Nekongo yesterday told The Namibian that he was going to restore the dignity of the youth league, saying that under his leadership there will be "no division, no factionalism and no tribalism, only unity".

"The best thing that we need to do collectively, is to restore unity. We want the youth league to be able to speak on behalf of its members," said Nekongo.

Some outgoing central committee members said Nekongo and Haindaka were not qualified for the positions they have been elected, as they both have not been SPYL members for at least 10 years, as prescribed by the youth league's constitution.

Nekongo's membership card, seen by The Namibian, shows that he became a SPYL member in 2010.

Nekongo on the other hand did not confirm or deny that his membership was less than 10 years.

"I was nominated and I was verified as a qualified candidate for the position," said Nekongo, who distanced himself from the Kapere and Nekundi faction, saying there were no factions in SPYL.

"For me, Nekundi was the acting secretary and all of us fell behind him so we have to support him as members of the national executive committee. Only 10 members were absent when I was nominated. Can you also say that the rest of the central committee was a Nekundi faction?" Nekongo asked.

Outgoing SPYL information secretary Neville Andre Itope said the congress was fairly conducted as it endorsed the reports and resolutions of the disputed central committee meeting of 13 May, which endorsed Geingob as the party's sole presidential candidate.

Itope yesterday said the majority of congress delegates also endorsed Geingob.

"We endorsed him as the party's sole candidate with the majority in support," said Itope.

The disputed meeting also nominated Kapere and Nekongo for the secretary position.

Several youth leaders boycotted the May meeting, saying it had been unconstitutional as it had not been preceded by district and regional conferences.

Former economic affairs secretary Immanuel Nashinge and health secretary Sioni Iikela contested the meeting's resolutions in the High Court, which dismissed their case and allowed the implementation of resolutions.

Nashinge yesterday expressed disappointment over the way the congress was conducted, saying it was just an election as those who wanted to discuss contentious issues were intimidated.

"It was just a matter of electing your favoured person. There was nothing worth talking about," said Nashinge.

Multiple sources at the congress told The Namibian that the endorsement of resolutions from the disputed central committee meeting and of Geingob as the sole presidential candidate caused divisions.

Sources said the endorsement was not deliberated and agreed at congress, but was only announced by Nekundi in his personal capacity.

"We were just told that we were supporting Geingob without us giving our stance on the matter," said the source.

"He was campaigning for Geingob, saying he [Geingob], was the only true leader; the commander in chief; the only president for the party and the nation, therefore all delegates at the congress must support him," said the source.

Former youth league international secretary Edward Kafita, who was also at the congress, said he was disappointed at the way Nekundi handled matters at the congress.

"Some of us left earlier. There was no congress there. It was just people electing their prefered candidates," said Kafita.

Kafita said Nekundi also did not allow people to express themselves.

"Nothing concrete will come out of that gathering," he said.

Authors: All Africa

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