Okahandja once again fails to elect new mayor

20 Dec 2018 14:40pm
WINDHOEK, 20 DEC (NAMPA) – Four of the five Swapo councillors who make up the seven-member Okahandja Municipal Council failed to show up for the swearing-in ceremony for local authority councillors on Thursday, which led to the postponement of the event.
This is the second time in less than a month that the process to elect a mayor for Okahandja has reached an impasse.
The councillors who boycotted the event include incumbent mayor Johannes Hindjou, Hileni Iita, Helmi Maruru and Gideon Uwu-Khaeb.
Their absence meant that the proceedings could not go ahead as the three present councillors could not make up a quorum.
Magistrate Khaepriums Swartz, who presided over the ceremony went out of his way to extend the programme by an hour, to make time for the absent councillors to make their way to the municipal chamber.
This was however in vain, as Hindjou and his Swapo comrades were nowhere to be seen an hour later.
“The swearing-in ceremony has been postponed until further notice,” Swartz said.
Frustration and fury were evident on the faces of those who thronged the municipal chamber to witness the ceremony.
One group demanded the re-election of Hindjou as mayor, while the other group stood firm against such a move.
About 150 residents of Okahandja packed the chamber, while members of the Namibian Police Force guarded the room.
“We are sick and tired of this. No Congo, no elections,” one of the protestors screamed in the chamber.
“Congo must go and the directive of the SG must be respected,” another resident shouted in response.
The residents also demanded the intervention of Rural and Urban Development Minister, Peya Mushelenga.
Those belonging to the Swapo Party want its secretary general, Sophia Shaningwa to intervene in the matter which has been dragging on for the last few weeks.
Last month, the electoral process fell flat after residents who convened in the council chamber to witness the swearing in of the town’s leadership caused havoc that led to the entire process being halted.
The bone of contention is the extension or termination of Hindjou’s tenure as mayor.
It stems from two letters, one from Shaningwa, and another from Swapo’s district coordinator, Martha Mwandingi-Simeon.
In her letter, Shaningwa made it clear that Hindjou must not retain his post, without any further explanation.
Shaningwa wants Sofia Upithe as the new mayor. Upithe, as per Shaningwa’s directive, is to be deputised by Uwu-Khaeb and Iita as chairperson of the management committee.
On the opposing end, the Swapo District Executive Committee (DEC), as empowered by Swapo constitution’s Rule 64 wants Hindjou as mayor.
Hindjou, according to DEC is to be deputised by Iita, while Uwu-Khaeb is their ideal choice for the position of management committee chairperson.
Efforts to get comments from Hindjou proved futile as his phone went unanswered.