Swapo snubs LPM overtures

Andrew Kathindi

The ruling Swapo party has snubbed Landless People’s Movement’s (LPM) olive branch and sent out directives to its elected councilors to only work with National Unity Democratic Organization of Namibia (NUDO) and United Democratic Front of Namibia (UDF).

This comes as LPM leader Bernardus Swartbooi earlier on Monday revealed that the party would welcome the opportunity to work with Swapo.

Following a Swapo Politburo Central Committee meeting, with the aim of reflecting on the recently held elections, Swapo Secretary General Sophia Shaningwa directed regional leadership to “enter into a coalition with only (NUDO) and (UDF) where Swapo party is unable to constitute and form a full council in different regional and local authority council.”

She further requested that they submit “a proposed list on the deployment of Swapo party cadres to positions in regional and local authority councils to enable the office of the Secretary General to finalize and direct you on the way forward.”

Part of the coalitions being proposed by Swapo with UDF for the local authority includes in Erongo, Karibib, Arandis, Omaruru and Usakos.

In the Kunene region the ruling party is targeting Outjo, Khorixas, Kamanjab and Okahandja in Otjozondjupa.

While NUDO have been handpicked for possible coalitions with Swapo in Omaruru (Erongo), Okakarara (Otjozondjupa) and Gobabis, Leonardville, Otjinene in the Omaheke region.

The party’s councilors are directed by the SG to enter negotiations on the “principle of give and take.”

The national ruling party however does not have any prospective coalitions in major towns, including the coastal towns, the capital city and Keetmashoop where LPM holds five seats on the local authority council.

Landless People Movement (LPM) had thrown Swapo a lifeline after revealing that the party is ready to work with all political parties, including Swapo.

This comes as some opposition parties indicated that they would be willing to enter coalition agreements with any party other than Swapo following the recently held regional and local authority elections, where the ruling party lost its grip on significant constituencies and local authorities across the country,

“When you look at the people that voted for Swapo, it’s the rural folk; it’s the ones in informal settlements. It’s the ones that don’t have jobs and are hungry. The ones that are disenfranchised. Who voted for LPM? it is the ones also hungry, in informal settlements,” LPM leaders Bernardus Swartbooi said.

He added, “There is a convergence in terms of those that voted for the ruling party and those that voted for LPM. In terms of class and economic issues, there is convergence. It makes sense, politicly for the ruling party to work with us and it makes sense for us to work with the ruling party.”

“It does not mean that we’ll be in a coalition with the ruling party. It means there are areas where we can sit down and agree and work together. We have to sit and engage the ruling party in a sensible way.”

Swartbooi further said that it would not enter any coalition talks with other opposition political parties, “as a child that needs a favour as the party is willing to handle all matters on an issue by issue basis if coalition talks fail and egos get in the way.”

“Who gets Mayor, Chairperson of the management committee are secondary things. Coalitions must be done on the principle of values and for us, what is important is land, Human resource audit and finance audit. I hear in Swakopmund it costs them N$20 million on legal services. This must be corrected.”

This comes as Swakopmund council on Monday elected Lovisa Kativa of the Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) which holds three seats on council as Mayor of the coastal town, David Amgabeb from United Democratic Front of Namibia (UDF) as Deputy mayor while Wilfried Groenewaldt of Swakopmund Residents Association is the Chairperson of the management committee. Swartbooi confirmed that LPM, which holds one seat in the Swakopmund local authority was part of the coalition agreement that led to those decisions.

The IPC’s Trevino Forbes was also elected as the mayor of Walvis Bay.

Swartbooi further said that the loss of Swapo’s control over key regions and local authorities means that there will now be more room for consultations in the running of municipalities across the country and administrators who do not deliver will now be replaced.

This comes as PDM put out directives stating that it is open and willing to work with other political parties in the management of regional and local authorities for the year 2020 – 2025. However, the invite was not extended to Swapo.

“You are urged not to go in any coalition agreement with Swapo as we now have a golden opportunity to unite as the opposition front in Namibia to save our regional and local authorities from maladministration by Swapo for the past 30 years,” said the party’s Secretary General Manuel Ngaringombe.

When quizzed earlier on whether the ruling party would welcome a coalition with LPM, Swapo Spokesperson Hilma Nicanor said that the issue would be addressed at Swapo’s press conference.

The development comes as NUDO leader Esther Muinjangue, was earlier this year picked by President Hage Geingob as Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, a move which political analysts observed as a way to draw her to Swapo’s causes in parliament after the ruling party lost its two thirds majority in parliament following the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly elections.

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