Swapo Governors discuss elections with EkandjoBy: BRIGITTE WEIDLICH
ALL regional councillors belonging to the ruling Swapo Party, held a meeting with Local and Regional Government Minister Jerry Ekandjo yesterday to discuss party matters regarding the upcoming regional elections.
Minster Ekandjo sent out an official invite, via fax, on Monday, with the heading ‘Office of the Minister – ministerial memorandum’ and with an official stamp.
“With the upcoming regional and local authority elections in mind, I have found it imperative to discuss very pertinent issues related to changes of political portfolios of governors. In this respect I am inviting you, as Governors of [the] regions, reflected above, to attend an urgent meeting on Thursday at the Ministry’s boardroom,” the invitation read.
The invitation listed the names of the twelve Governors who belong to Swapo.
When The Namibian asked Minister Ekandjo yesterday why Kunene Governor Dudu Murorua’s name was not on the list, he said the meeting was “only a Swapo meeting to see for ourselves, how to strategise for the November elections.”
Murorua belongs to the United Democratic Front.
On the question, if the recent Cabinet decision that the Head of State will appoint Governors in future would also be discussed, Ekandjo replied this was not so.
“A Bill is being drafted to that effect but it is not yet a public document. As such we cannot discuss this matter. I will table the Bill in Parliament later this month,” the Minister told The Namibian.
Regional Governors will in future not be elected among the regional councillors of the 13 political regions in Namibia, but will be appointed by the Head of State.
The term of office of the incumbent Governors ends towards the end of this year with regional and local elections planned for November 26 and 27.
Cabinet resolved last month that the existing Special Advisers and Regional Representatives Appointment Act of 1990 should be amended to that effect. “To strengthen and clarify the link between the regional councils and central Government, it has become necessary for His Excellency the President [Hifikepunye Pohamba] to appoint special advisers and regional governors to serve at the President’s pleasure,” a press statement on Cabinet resolutions said in August.
Recently Parliament passed an amendment to the Namibian Constitution, which shortens the term of office of regional councillors from six to five years.
The Youth League of the United Democratic Front (UDF) had called the proposed change to the existing Special Advisers and Regional Representatives Appointment Act of 1990, “unconstitutional and a shame.”
Since regional councils were established in 1992, councillors, who are directly voted in by the people, elected a management committee from their ranks, and the chairman of this committee, who so far has also been elected from the committee members, served as governor of the specific region.
This could mean that the Kunene Region, which is currently the only region opposition hands, the UDF and DTA, could, in the future be governed by a Swapo governor.
“Citizens of Namibia will not be able to opt for another political party to govern them at regional level,” the UDFYL said.
The Namibian Constitution, in Chapter 12, sets out the structures of regional councils, and the duties of councillors, but it does not mention the term ‘governor’. Article 109(3), of the Constitution, only states that the chairperson of the management committee of a regional council “shall preside at meetings of his or her regional council.”
Murorua, was not happy that yesterday’s meeting was only for the Swapo governors. “The meeting indicates very clearly that the Minister uses Government for political programmes and to discuss [Swapo] matters,” Murorua commented. “It looks like they want to take over the Kunene Region, with which we do not have a problem, but it should be done democratically,” he added. According to him, appointing future governors was “weakening democracy in Namibia.”