Swanu’s power struggles intensify

Evilastus Kaaronda

A faction within the South West Africa National Union (Swanu) yesterday held a demonstration at the party’s headquarters, demanding that the leadership organise an extraordinary congress before this year’s presidential and National Assembly elections.

Former secretary general Issaskar Hiakaere, who led the protest yesterday, admitted the presence of disunity in Namibia’s oldest political party.

“It’s undeniable that there are factions within Swanu, nor can we deny that there are two leaders. We therefore thought we should go through the constitutional provision and go for an extraordinary congress to decide on the way forward,” he said.

The party held a meeting at Gobabis in March where it pleaded for unity and to resolve the issue of two leaders.

“We don’t want to go to the elections divided, we want to be one Swanu,” Hiakaere pleaded.

“More than one third of Swanu’s branches have deemed it of vital importance to rally around the cause and demand an extraordinary congress as a last resort, hoping to avert the prevailing existential threat faced by the party as requested by the Eiseb branch and a number of individual cadres [sic] across the traditional Swanu branches,” the petition addressed to acting secretary general Uno Hengari reads.

One Swanu faction is under the leadership of Charles Katjivirue, with the other led by Evilastus Kaaronda, the current party president.

This is according to a congress held at Okahandja in 2022.

Katjivirue is currently on suspension for hosting an extraordinary meeting in Windhoek in 2021, where he was elected as party leader.

While some members were protesting, Kaaronda was hosting a press conference at the parliament with a different agenda.
He yesterday told The Namibian he was not aware of a protest at the party’s head office.

Kaaronda denied any disunity in the party.

“We are united, and there is a group of people who don’t want the eligible leadership,” he said.

He said there is no need for an extraordinary congress, since the party had a congress in 2022.

“I am elected from the congress. Swanu has its congresses every five years.”

Political analyst Kae Matundu yesterday said he does not understand the fundamental differences between the factions.
He said Swanu cannot afford to entertain factionalism, especially not in an election year.

“It is very unfortunate. If they allow further division, there is no doubt they would go in the political dustbin.

“I am baffled to hear there was a petition, because I thought they were embarking on a mediation process to sort out their differences for an amicable solution,” Matundu said.

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