The battle for Windhoek Mayor begins … as Swapo loses control of council

Andrew Kathindi

The Swapo party has lost control of the City of Windhoek in the local elections. A battle has emerged on who will be the next mayor of the nation’s capital, after new councilors are sworn in.

This comes as ruling party Swapo garnered five seats on the Council, having previously held 12, while new player Independents Patriots for Change (IPC) collected four, Affirmative Repositioning (AR) and Landless People’s Movement (LPM) picked up two each while Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) and National Unity Democratic Organization (NUDO) both got one seat.

AR leader, Job Amupanda, who heads to the Council, along with the movement’s Illse Keister, previously ran a fierce campaign to become the next mayor of Windhoek.

PDM leader McHenry Venaani said that he would welcome the idea of working with AR but they would need to agree on objectives.

“For me it’s not who occupies the mayoral position; it’s the agenda. There will be a need to negotiate if we’re working together. What is it that we’d want to deliver?”

He said he is going to propose to have a grand coalition to set a joint city cabinet headed by a competent mayor and negotiate on several areas.

“It’s a building block of changing the country. If we are sincere about changing it, then all our contributions will not be in vain if we start working together.”

Swapo councilor and incumbent Windhoek Mayor Fransina Kahungu told Windhoek Observer that she plans to vie to retain her position “as the office of the mayor had a program that it needed to fulfill – as you are aware there was a problem with coronavirus and some of the things could not be implemented because of restrictions.”

She added, “Yes, there are things which I could carry over so that I can complete them, but if that is not possible, I am ready to support whoever would be there. Not just the mayor but all councilors need support so that we deliver services to all the people.”

IPC, which holds the second highest seats on the Windhoek council and could gain the most from a coalition said that it’s willing to work together with other parties.

“For us it’s not about positions. We want to change the livelihood of Namibians, that’s all that matters. That will be the top agenda in everything that we’re going to be doing. We don’t have a problem working with anyone. This is our country and we need each other to make sure that we’re progressing,” the party’s spokesperson Imms Nashinge told Windhoek Observer.

“We are told in Namibia there are about 900,000 people that live in ghettos, let us worry about that. There is no crime in working together. We’ll deal with it when the time is right. For now, we’re going to take stock and see how best to put our house in order.”

While IPC’s land issue seems closely tied to Amupanda’s, Political Analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah was skeptical if this would be enough to form a coalition.

“I think it’s going to be a little complicated because also among the opposition party there is going to be some struggle, especially IPC being number two, with four votes, will probably find it difficult to give the office of the mayor to another opposition party. So, they have to really negotiate and compromise,” he said.

LPM second in charge, Henny Seibeb, who did not dwell on the mayoral race said a land audit at the City of Windhoek would need to happen soon.

“It’s good that Swapo lost its grip on the municipality of Windhoek because the criminalization of the city will end with immediate effect. The first task would be to conduct a land audit in order to root out corrupt land deals and expropriate vacant land to solve urban land crisis.”

He added, “The criminal networks that existed at land department must be investigated and criminal proceedings explored. The contract of Kanime must also be revisited. Our focus should be on solving the urban housing crisis and to accelerate land delivery to all.”

This comes as cases against City Police Chief Abraham Kanime by former Windhoek Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Robert Kahimise and PDM councilor Ignatius Semba were recently withdrawn and settled.

Amupanda further encouraged the opposition parties now with seats on the City of Windhoek Council to unify.

“As there is no political formation that secured more than 50 plus one (required majority), it goes without saying that the progressive forces (IPC, LPM, PDM and NUDO) that toppled the corrupt regime would need to consolidate unity of purpose to form the leadership to stop the suffering of the residents of Windhoek.”

Attempts to reach Swapo Party Secretary-General Sophia Shaningwa and party spokesperson Hilma Nicanor for comment proved fruitless.

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