News and Information

Nehova's fate in balance
September 20, 2004

MORE divisions loom in Swapo following the boycott of an election meeting at Ongwediva, where the biggest upset in nominations for Regional Councils could be the ousting of National Council Chairman Kandy Nehova.

Supporters of Nehova called The Namibian at the weekend threatening to hold street protests.

Around the country tension reigned as current lawmakers were booted from office by their party's grassroots structures.

A walk-out marred the elections at Ongwediva, previously considered a safe seat for Nehova until he crossed President Sam Nujoma's path for allegedly forming cliques and "dividing" Swapo in the area during the municipal elections in May.

In the past, Nehova was returned to parliament with ease, despite complaints from Ongwediva constituency residents that he allegedly did little work for them and widespread reports of alleged irregularities and abuse of office.

However, his apparent role in the municipal elections and support for axed Foreign Affairs Minister Hidipo Hamutenya in the race for presidential nomination appear to have sealed his fate.

The other protagonist in the power struggle is said to be Swapo Regional Co-ordinator for Oshana, Erastus Uutoni, who blamed Nehova for his failure to get elected to the Ongwediva town council during the municipal elections.

Uutoni and four others were eventually made councillors following the intervention of the Swapo Politburo.

Uutoni was chosen as mayor.

At the time, the Politburo also investigated Nehova's role in the nominations debacle.

Yesterday, chaos erupted at the ruling party's Ongwediva district conference with Nehova and Uutoni supporters differing on the legitimacy of their respective branches.

The Namibian understands that both groups interpreted a letter written by Swapo Secretary General Ngarikutuke Tjiriange in their favour.

A supporter of the National Council Chairman, said they argued that the letter prohibited branches which were formed after August 13 from taking part in the voting.

Their side believes Uutoni set up branches after the cut-off date, which was after Swapo top brass had declared the race open for nomination of Regional Councils and National Assembly candidates.

Uutoni's supporters argued they had acted within the guidelines and that all branches were legitimate.

Eventually, several branches, walked out with their candidates, boycotting the elections.

Elections went ahead with those present insisting they formed a legitimate quorum.

Nehova is said to have lost out to Serverius Ekandjo.

But when approached for comment on claims that he had been ousted by a ballot, Nehova said yesterday:"There was no vote.

The executive committee of the district, of which I'm a member, and all delegates walked out.

Those who remained were not legitimate."

Nehova declined to comment further, saying he did not want to "sound like I'm just defending myself".

"Right now, I can tell you that there was no conference in terms of the party's constitution," he added.

Regional Councillor Uutoni declined to comment saying: "I have not reported this conference to my [head] office yet.

So I have to report it first" before making a public statement.

Nehova's supporters have said they'll take the matter further, as they were still smarting from the withdrawal of people they believe were legitimately elected as councillors for Ongwediva.

"Whichever way you look at elections, they have become a power struggle like we have never seen it before in Swapo.

One must admit, though, that democracy with its manoeuvres is having great play," said one senior party politician.


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