Nikanor tells 'independent candidate' proponents to relinquish membership

27 Mar 2019 22:20pm
WINDHOEK, 27 MAR (NAMPA) – The Swapo party has called on its members, who intend to contest in presidential elections in November this year as independent candidates but still on the party's ticket, to relinquish their membership with immediate effect.
The party's spokesperson Hilma Nicanor said this at a press conference on Wednesday, which was convened to denounce what she termed ‘so-called independent candidates’ referencing Dr Panduleni Itula, a proponent of the independent candidate doctrine.
She stressed that Itula or any other Swapo member cannot challenge Geingob during the presidential elections in November as it is in violation of the party’s constitution and elections code of conduct.
She quoted a section of Section 53 of Swapo’s Rules and Procedures to condemn Itula: “The President (Geingob) of the Party shall automatically be the Party’s Candidate to the Presidency of the Republic.”
It can therefore not be acceptable for that a person, being a member of the party declares him or herself as an independent candidate but yet riding on the back of the party to compete against the party’s legitimate candidate, whom the party as a whole is to rally behind, she stated.
Nikanor, who is also the deputy minister of veterans’ affairs, claimed that there are secretive meetings in the regions aimed at spreading and advocating for the independent candidacy of Itula.
The meetings, she said, are to ensure that he gets the numbers to get him registered with the Election Commission of Namibia.
“Such secret meetings are not only a serious violation of the party’s rules and procedures but also have the potential to cause disunity and factionalism within the party,” Nikanor added.
Although Itula could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, recent reports quote him saying Namibia is now on fertile ground for an independent candidate.
He premised this on the political situation in the country, which according to him is ripe for a leader who is not compromised by party politics.
Contrary to Nikanor’s assertions, Itula is of the opinion that an independent is not in violation of both the Namibian and Swapo constitutions.
“Under the Namibian constitutional dispensation, time may be mature for such a shake-up situation to occur…particularly in light of unpleasant tendencies we witnessed in local governments and the ruling party,” Itula was quoted as saying in a local weekly newspaper.
The Namibian Constitution makes provision for any citizen, by birth or descent, aged 35 or above to vie to be elected as the country’s head of state.
According to the Electoral Act of 2014, an independent candidate has to be supported by at least 500 registered voters from each of the country’s 14 political regions.