The announcement by the President of Swapo, Hage Geingob for the start of the internal Swapo Party campaign for the top three positions got off to a wrong start today when one of the candidates, Frans Kapofi withdrew from the race, as Jerry Ekandjo, who was eliminated from the contest presented Swapo with a lawyer’s letter in which he demands to be reinstated in the race.
In the letter, Ekandjo’s legal representative Metcalfe Attorneys say Kapofi and Tom Alweendo who also fell out in the elimination race should not have been part of the contest and therefore, he should return to the race.
Following Kapofi’s withdrawal today only three candidates remain for the Vice President’s position namely Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, Saara Kuukongwelwa-Amadhila and Pohamba Shifeta.
In the letter Ekandjo says that the Swapo Party should follow its own Constitution and should have only allowed Shifeta and himself as the two male candidates to join the other two female contestants.
If the error is not corrected by the end of business today, Ekandjo threatened that he would start his campaign for election as Vice President of the Swapo Party tomorrow, or seek relief from the High Court of Namibia.
It is not the first time Ekandjo runs for the party’s vice presidency. In 2012 he challenged Hage Geingob to the position and was beaten.
Geingob went on to become the president of Namibia in 2015.
Furthermore, in 2017 Ekandjo was nominated as a candidate for the president of SWAPO and came second again to Geingob.
Political commentator and academic Rui Tyitende in an earlier interview with the Windhoek Observer had highlight that within the Swapo constitution there is clause that stipulates that the Helmuth Amendments only apply to members who joined the party after 2018.
But, Ekandjo is unfazed by this clause in the Transitional Provisions, which according to Swapo insiders was challenged at the weekend Central Committee meeting which approved the nomination of Kapofi and Alweendo.
‘’Despite the hullabaloo created around the so-called ‘Helmuth Amendments’, there is a transitional provision that clearly states ‘Any right or privilege enjoyed by any member in terms of the previous provisions prior to the amendment must be considered to be a right or privilege enjoyed in terms of any comparable provisions of this Constitution.’ Put differently, the amendments only apply to those who joined Swapo after 2018,’’ he said.
In the letter, Ekandjo’s lawyer, Richard Metcalfe, states that while everything appears to be going well at first glance, the Swapo Party Central Committee failed miserably to follow the Swapo Party Constitution in identifying the two male candidates for election as Vice President by the Swapo Party Congress scheduled for November 25-27, 2022.
There is nowhere any mention of the transitional provision in the constitution by Ekandjo and his legal representatives.
‘’Article 16 of the Constitution of the Swapo Party clearly and unambiguously sets out the
provisions pertaining to eligibility for election as Vice President of the Swapo Party. Article
16(8) specifically provides that ;…No Party member shall be eligible for election as Vice President of Swapo Party unless he or she (inter alia) has been a member of the Central Committee for a minimum of ten years…,” he explains.
He further adds that neither Kapofi nor Alweendo have served even one day as members of the
Central Committee and this absolutely disqualifies them for nomination for the position of Vice
President of Swapo Party.
‘’Their respective nominations are factually and legally null and void. The only two factually and legally qualified nominees for election to the position of Vice President are Comrades Pohamba
Shifeta and Jerry Ekandjo, who qualify by default for nomination for the position of Vice President of Swapo Party,’’ the letter reads.
Metcalfe notes that, ‘’it would be deplorable and lamentable for Swapo Party to be viewed as a miscreant who ignores its own Constitution like certain other opposition parties’’.
‘’Your attention is with respect drawn to the provisions of Article 18 of the Constitution of the
Republic of Namibia which provides for administrative fairness. It is expected that as the incumbent ruling party, Swapo will act in an exemplary fashion by observing its own Constitution as well as the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia. As our Courts have made so lucid and categorical over 32 years of Independence, nobody and no political party is above the law,’’ he says.
The letter is addressed to the Secretary General, the President, the Vice President, Kapofi, Shifeta, Alweendo, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila and Nandi-Ndaitwah.
By the time of going to publication, Swapo had not responded to Ekandjo’s threat.