Okahandja fails to elect mayor

28 Nov 2018 17:40pm
WINDHOEK, 28 NOV (NAMPA) – The electoral process to elect a town mayor for the Okahandja Municipality fell flat on Wednesday.
This is after residents who thronged the Council Chamber to witness the swearing-in ceremony of the town’s leadership caused havoc that led to the entire process being halted by the presiding officer.
Following a heated debate between the town’s residents in support of and against an extension for current Mayor Johannes Congo Hindjou, Magistrate Khaepriums Swartz was left with no choice but to cancel the process.
Swartz started the electoral process by calling for the nomination of a candidate to serve as mayor as prescribed by the Local Authorities Act.
One of Swapo’s five councillors, Hileni Iita nominated Hindjou to retain the post.
Her fellow Swapo councillor - Helmi Maruru - then seconded Hindjou’s nomination.
Swartz then asked Hindjou to either accept or decline the nomination.
It was at this stage that chaos erupted, as one of the town’s residents, activist Kathleen Uri-Khos interjected and shouted “No! No! No! This will not happen. You cannot defy the letter from the SG. A small kid cannot disobey us! The directive of the Secretary General [Sophia Shaningwa] must be followed. We also have the regional coordinator. We are the people sitting under the hot sun and we are saying no (to the election of Hindjou) for now,” Uri-Khos asserted.
Uri-Khos was referring to a letter dated 12 November 2018, seen by Nampa, in which Shaningwa instructed Swapo’s coordinator for the Otjozondjupa Region, Susan Hikopua to effect changes to the party’s local authority office bearers in Okahandja.
In the letter, Shaningwa made it clear that Hindjou must not retain his mayoral post, but that he should be demoted to an ordinary member of the council.
Shaningwa wants Sofia Uupithe to be elected as mayor, to be deputised by Gideon Uwu-Khaeb and Iita as chairperson of the management committee.
On the opposing end, in another letter dated 22 November 2018, Swapo’s district coordinator for Okahandja, Martha Mwandingi-Simeon wrote to Hikopua, informing her of the changes they would effect to the council empowered by the Swapo constitution’s Rule 64.
It reads: “(The) elections of mayors and deputy mayors prior to the election of such officials in terms of the Local Authorities Act 1992 shall be identified by the District Executive Committee. The elections of other office-bearers to the Management Committee shall be coordinated by the District Executive Committee.”
Consequent to that, the Okahandja Swapo District Executive Committee resolved that the status quo should remain, with Hindjou as mayor.
The letter says Hindjou is to be deputised by Iita.
Uwu-Khaeb is the proposed candidate for the position of chairperson of the management committee.
Sophia Uupithe and Maruru are to be ordinary members of the committee.
Due to the two conflicting letters and the chaos in the chambers, the magistrate had no choice but to postpone the election until there is consensus on who is to become the new mayor.
Opposition councillors were dissatisfied with the way proceedings were handled and accused the magistrate of failing to take control of the situation, even if it meant instructing the police to evict those causing havoc.
The councillors accused Uupithe of being divisive and further claimed that she does not talk to any of her colleagues on the council body.
The councillors had a meeting prior to the elections in the mayoral office, which Uupithe failed to attend.