‘fraud and cheating compromised whole process’ – report
By Catherine Sasman
The independent auditing panel established to probe the Congress of Democrats (CoD) Extraordinary Congress in May this year, has found the electoral process, which saw the re-election of Ben Ulenga as the party president, “flawed”.
The panel, consisting of Clement Daniels (chairperson of panel), Toni Hancocks, Samson Ndeikwila, and Ian Swartz, yesterday presented their findings and recommendations on the congress.
They concluded that there was “fraud and cheating which compromised the integrity of the [electoral] process”.
The panel concluded that there is “conclusive proof of serious irregularities and sufficient to nullify the election”.
Following the findings and recommendations of the audit panel, a group led by Kala Gertze and Ignatius Shixwameni, calling themselves the “CoD majority” and the “genuine CoD” yesterday hastily called a press briefing at a house in Windhoek North to present the media with selected versions of the report.
The group promised another meeting today where more details on the 21-page audit report will be divulged.
There was a delay in the finalization of the audit purportedly due to the amount of evidence that had to be analyzed.
According to Shixwameni, the “Ben Ulenga group” was not present when the panel presented its findings at the Council of Churches yesterday, saying that the “others” could not be traced and that they had “probably boycotted” the presentation by the audit panel.
“We expect Mr Ulenga to do one simple, honourable thing which he promised the nation in a statement, which he signed: to step down since the panel has conclusively found that indeed there were irregularities and that there were fraud and cheating,” said the group said .
The panel concluded that although the congress was held legitimately in terms of the party’s constitution, “there was not enough time to prepare and set all the constitutional requirements in place to ensure a credible, legitimate and democratic process”.
After an outcry over alleged irregularities and a call for an audit following the contentious Keetmanshoop congress, Ulenga promised to resign as party president should any irregularities be found with the electoral process.
“Today is a great day for democracy in the CoD and the country, and we hope that this serves as a lesson to other people in other parties: that dishonesty and fraud do not pay. People can still stand up for what is right and truthful,” said Shixwameni. “After the congress, we felt something was flawed and we were not prepared to sell our hearts and souls. But the audit has absolved us.”
The “CoD majority” said it would work with the audit panel to establish an interim leadership and that it would adhere to the recommendations of the audit to start working for the rebuilding of the CoD in all regions, and to work towards the convening of a special congress within a given period to elect a new leadership for the party.
The group would not be pressed for more details on the way forward, except to say that they would leave it to the interim committee to map the way.
They have also alluded to the fact that the “other group” had exerted “force to occupy” the party offices, and “did things forcefully” like “firing administrative” staff.
“The organisation needs to be protected and re-moulded,” said Gertze.
Ulenga could not be contacted for comment as his mobile phone was switched off.