‘Expulsion was Constitutional’

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK THE recent decision by Swapo Party’s politburo to expel former Trade and Industry Minister Jesaya Nyamu for harbouring thoughts to “split” the ruling party was constitutional in all aspects of the law, say party insiders. Speculation is rife that the politburo’s decision to excommunicate Nyamu was unconstitutional because members present apparently did not form a quorum. However, sources are adamant there was indeed a quorum and that section 10 of Article VII was being misunderstood. Section 10 reads that with the exception of the President, the Vice President, the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General, the Political Bureau shall by two-thirds majority of its members have the authority to expel any member of the party or suspend any affiliate organisation for serious misconduct or violation of the constitution. And in respect of an affiliate organisation, the politburo has to refer the matter to the Central Committee for a final decision. Sources pointed out that the “two-thirds majority” refers to the majority of the members in attendance of the politburo meeting. This is further outlined in Section 21 of the said Article that states: “The quorum of the Politburo shall be a simple majority of its members.” “Therefore, to argue that only 11 voting members were present, which makes the decision unconstitutional as at least 12 of the 17 voting members should have been present to form a two-thirds majority, is incorrect and insidious,” one Swapo official told New Era. “The argument here should rather have been whether a two-thirds majority of the 11 voting members present at the meeting voted in favour of the decision to expel Nyamu, if not, then one could say that the decision was unconstitutional,” the source explained. Of the 21-member politburo, only six members were absent at last week’s meeting, namely Prime Minister Nahas Angula and his deputy Dr Libertina Amathila, Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab, Agriculture Minister Dr Nicky Iyambo, Swapo Chief Whip Ben Amathila and Secretary General Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange. When contacted for comment, a voting member who attended the meeting who is also the party’s Information and Publicity Officer, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, refused to reveal the voting statistics on how many of the 11 members present voted in favour of and against the expulsion. She said despite not being able to divulge any numbers, the statistics were no secret at all, as they would be reflected in the minutes of the meeting. Her prerogative however was only to disclose the decision made, she said. “I would not go to that extent as it would appear in the minutes of the meeting. The only announcement to make is the decision taken at the meeting,” she stated. Politburo member Nangolo Mbumba, who also attended the meeting said: “If somebody wants to look for an excuse, there was a quorum and a decision was taken.” Nyamu’s issue topped the agenda of the previous politburo meeting held last month November, which resolved that the issue should be dealt with at a later meeting. “The Nyamu issue was discussed at a previous politburo meeting and all Politburo members knew that at their follow up meeting (last week) they would decide what to do with Nyamu. So, the last politburo meeting was not a secret vendetta and the decision taken was legal in all aspects,” a source said.