Those calling for extraordinary congress are plotting against Swapo’s succession – Sankwasa

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

Former parliamentarian and Swapo Party member, James Sankwasa, contends that those pushing for the party to organise an extraordinary congress are working against the party’s success in the imminent Presidential November elections.

Sankwasa made this assertion on the ongoing debates revolving around the interpretation of the Swapo Party Constitution, particularly regarding the obligation to convene an extraordinary congress in the event of a leadership vacuum within 90 days.

The position was left vacant following the death of President Hage Geingob on 4 February.

“Those calling for an extraordinary congress do not want Swapo to come out as the leading party at the upcoming election in November. The extraordinary congress will only cause division in the party, as seen in the past. Court cases, personal issues and party division issues have all come up from past congresses. Their calling is either based on individual or tribal interest but not in the interest of the party as they are claiming,” said Sankwasa.

The Swapo constitution states that “in the event, the president is unable to permanently perform his or her duties, or carry out his or her functions for whatever reasons, an extraordinary congress shall be called by the Central Committee within three months of the vacancy occurring to elect a new president to complete the unexpired term of the former president, unless the vacancy occurs six months before the ordinary congress.”

Swapo party member, Stephanus Pombili said he will be pursuing legal avenues to ensure that the requirement for an extraordinary congress, as outlined in the constitution, is fulfilled.

“After a thorough examination of the SWAPO central committee’s extraordinary meeting and its decision to declare the Swapo Constitution invalid, I intend to pursue a review by the Supreme Court Judiciary on an urgent basis to compel SWAPO to convene the mandatory extraordinary congress as mandated by Article 15(9) and Article 11(14),” said Pombili.

He further alluded that the legal analysis provided by Swapo lawyer Sisa Namandje was deemed to be ambiguous.

“The legal analysis provided by Sisa Namandje was deemed to be ambiguous, as his interpretation aimed to sow fear and confusion needlessly,” he said.

Last month, Swapo’s central committee endorsed the party’s vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah as the sole presidential candidate for the November elections.

At the endorsement, Founding President Sam Nujoma urged party members to rally behind Nandi-Ndaitwah to prevent internal divisions, emphasising the importance of unity in facing the electoral challenges ahead.

At the event Namandje explained that there is a need to call for an extraordinary congress to elect a candidate for the elections the party created a rule that the vice president becomes the automatic candidate.

“The usage of the word automatically is deliberate because it does not need a decision,” he said.

He added that the party’s constitution does insist for an extraordinary congress to be held before the presidential election in November.

The party decided to hold the extraordinary congress on 19 April 2025 to coincide with the Swapo party’s 65th anniversary.

Swapo stalwart Nahas Angula lamented that the party may be breaking its constitution by delaying the convening of an extraordinary congress.

Angula said endorsing Nandi-Ndaitwah is not the issue, but it should be done within the confinement of the party’s constitution.

“My submission is that, if it is pushed to 2025, then it is unfortunate that the party constitution was violated. To endorse Netumbo is not a problem, but once they do that, they should make sure all rules and procedures are followed,” he said.

Efforts to reach Swapo’s secretary generally Sophia Shaningwa for comment proved futile as she did not respond to calls and messages sent to her.

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