Division overshadows Windhoek council election

DIVISION … The Windhoek City Council faces another setback as its election of office-bearers- faltered on Friday.

The Windhoek City Council has again failed to fully elect office-bearers after some councillors walked out of a council meeting on Friday and some abstained from voting.

Opposition councillors from the Affirmative Repositioning movement (Job Amupanda and Illse Keister-Elago), the Landless People’s Movement (Sade Gawanas and Ivan Skrywer) and the Popular Democratic Movement (Clemencia Hanases) did not return to the election process after requesting a short recess.

Three Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) councillors abstained from the vote, while Bernardus Araeb arrived at the meeting at its very end.

Deputy mayor Joseph Uapingene at the same time defended his union with Swapo, saying the ruling party has caucused with him, while opposition councillors have not.

“There was time for us, the opposition, to come together and talk. Even before I became the mayor, we were together.

“They just left me in the desert. I was left with no other choice but to join the people who have approached me,” the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) councillor said last week.

During the council’s previous election of office-bearers, which started in December last year and ended in March, Nudo stood with Swapo.

This led to Uapingene’s mayorship and Sam Nujoma, a ruling party councillor, being elected as chairperson of the management committee.

This time around, however, Uapingene is the deputy mayor under Swapo’s Queen Kamati as mayor.

MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE ON ICE

Voting for a full five-member management committee has been placed on ice.

Only three seats were filled by Swapo councillors Fransina Kahungu, Sam Nujoma and Austin Kwenani.

Nujoma and Kwenani were management committee members previously as well.

Uapingene addressed the tension between himself and other opposition councillors.

“You hear that after the current mayor won the election with six votes and the runner-up with five, already they concluded that the sixth vote was me, which was correct.

“But I have announced this when I was mayor, and announced the date [of the election] two weeks ago. The people who approached me that time was Swapo,” he said.

The deputy mayor said this in response to Landless People’s Movement (LPM) councillor Gawanas loudly exclaiming his name after Kamati’s victory as mayor was announced.

Kamati was nominated by Uapingene and seconded by Nujoma.

Gawanas yesterday said she does not trust Uapingene and accused him of prioritising his position and status.

“I have no trust in Uapingene’s leadership, because for him it’s about his stomach and position. We are in opposition, that is clear.

“We cannot go and give Swapo back the power we have worked so hard to break. Therefore, we see him as an opportunistic leader,” she said.

Gawanas said the deputy mayor has not taken a back seat since his inauguration.

“Uapingene is a sellout, and he knows it. He is the only councillor who has never been ordinary, and never wanted to be – even if it meant selling his soul to the devil,” she said.

IPC councillor Ndeshihafela Larandja on Friday told The Namibian the opposition’s “monster called ‘vote of no confidence’” has come back to haunt it.

‘UNCOMFORTABLE DECISIONS’

Gawanas, however, said IPC councillors are unable to take repsonsibility for their colleagues.

“The IPC had the responsibility to defend its position and to take accountability for its inability to handle the management committee.

“The councillors of the IPC should have known better […] that it takes immense courage to take accountability where they fell short, to be able to access the political environment and engage to avoid a vote of no confidence,” she said.

Gawanas said the LPM has tried to assist the IPC’s management, which was not successful and led to a vote of no confidence.

“Numerous times we tried to convene, yet their arrogance and lack of team leadership got them where they are.

“They must take full accountability for how they reacted to the vote of no confidence, and stop blaming the LPM for their common failure,” she said.

Gawanas said unlike what she termed the IPC councillors’ wavering, opposition councillors acted beyond their comfort with others.

“We have remained principled throughout, and last year, we fought for the council not to be dissolved, and against all uncomfortable decisions made, agreed as G5 to support councillors Skrywer and Amupanda to join,” she said.

“We must learn that it’s not about position and power, but about capacity and the character to make uncomfortable decisions in the face of standing alone.”

A motion of no confidence was tabled by Keister-Elago against the IPC-led management committee in August last year and passed by a majority of votes.

The committee was led by the IPC’s Larandja, Jürgen Hecht, Ottilie Uukule and Araeb.

“They focused on the benefit they were going to derive from the vote of no confidence at that moment. But they didn’t look further,” Larandja said.

She said her fellow opposition councillors did not consider the future.

“Right now the monster is here, and that monster is huge. There’s no way they are going to do away with that monster. It’s here to stay, and it will cause havoc,” she said.

Larandja said the IPC does not trust opposition councillors any more.

“We don’t know why they have passed a vote of no confidence in us […] So, until they explain why they removed us […] only then we will trust them again,” she said.

Amupanda labelled Larandja a lightweight and accused her of owing the municipality money.

“She should focus on paying the city’s money. We shouldn’t ask residents to pay while councillors owe and are not paying,” Amupanda said.

Regarding the next election for management committee members scheduled for 18 January, Amupanda said the AR’s focus is elsewhere.

“We are busy with our programmes that require focus. We did our part, others must do theirs,” he said.

Concluding the election session on Fridy, City of Windhoek chief executive Moses Matyayi called for unity among councillors.

He reminded councillors of the oath they took.

“And I should be able to ask our leaders to be able to descend within themselves for the sake of the residents of Windhoek, for the sake of the community, and for the sake of the machineries of the local authority council of Windhoek to move.

“We need your unity,” he pleaded.

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